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    Le Monde Vivant

    Knights to remember

    The fractured fairy tale "Le Monde Vivant" — and its well-matched companion short "Dysenchanted" — mark directors Eugene Green and Terri Edda Miller as two to watch.


    Kudos to the New Directors/New Films programmer(s) who not only discovered, but also paired the delightful 8-minute short "Dysenchanted" with the offbeat feature "Le Monde Vivant." And what a pair!

    Written and directed by: Eugene Green.
    Cast: Christelle Prot, Alexis Loret, Adrien Michaux, Laur¸ne Cheilan, Achille Trocellier, Marin Charvet, Arnold Pasquier.
    Cinematography: Rapha‘l O'Byrne.
    Edited by: Xiao Xing Cheng, Beno”t De Clerck.
    Costumes by: Agn¸s Noden.
    Walter Reade Theater Lincoln Center, 65th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam (212) 875-5600

    New Directors New Films 2004
  • Overview
  • Checkpoint
  • Eager Bodies
  • In Your Hands
  • Le Monde Vivant
  • Silent Waters
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring
  • The Story of the Weeping Camel
  • Three Step Dancing
  • Vodka Lemon

  • Official festival site
  • This fairy-tale duet is specifically geared to grown-ups, thereby running counter to the current commercial success of such studio fabricated kiddie fairy tales as "Shreks I & II" and "Ella Enchanted." But director Eug¸ne Green isn't out to emulate Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" either. The male characters in "Le Monde Vivant" dress in jeans and brandish swords, while the demoiselles look like Renaissance Faire escapees. And the oddly stilted dialogue is couched in post-Freudian Lacanian psychiatric terms!

    Psychiatrist Jacques Lacan's work in linguistics revealed repressed messages in ordinary communication and he's a standard reference today in cultural, gender and women's studies. As if this bit of French intellectual mind-fuck weren't enough, Green also refers several times to the "Jules Ferry Laws." Prime Minister Ferry banned religion from the French school system, while preaching the superiority of "the higher races over the lower races" and other colonialist doctrines.

    Saddled with this double dose of Gallic pretension, it's a pleasant surprise to find that "Le Monde Vivant" can be thoroughly enjoyed without knowing any of it. It may be an intellectual romp for les fran¨ais, but then so is Jerry Lewis. For the rest of us, the film is a trip through a contemporary looking glass, as some attractive guys save some attractive gals by slaying an unattractive ogre. At least we're told he's unattractive. He's also unseen, except for his arms, hands and feet — kind of like White Fang and Black Tooth on the old Soupy Sales Show.

    Okay, so the lion belonging to the Lion Knight (Alexis Loret) is played by Sam the dog, but Sam's a fabulous actor! He actually shows more emotion than any of his fellow thespians, but that's also part of the fun. With studied flat affect, the Knight goes about rescuing two children stolen by the ogre with the help of the ogre's un-loving wife Pˇnˇlope (Christelle Prot). His best bud, a non-Knight named Nicolas (Adrien Michaux), rescues a curly-haired maiden (Laur¸ne Cheilan) imprisoned by the self same ogre. People die and come back to life and there's the requisite fairy-tale ending.

    Not so in Terri Edda Miller's delightful "Dysenchanted," the evening's live-action fantasy curtain-raiser. Director Miller imagines a room full of familiar fairy-tale characters from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to Little Red Riding Hood, along with a few storybook girls like Alice, Dorothy and Goldilocks. They're all at a therapy session with male therapist Jim Belushi — yes, that Jim Belushi. But when they begin to interact with a housewife from New Jersey, it turns into a lost episode of "Sex & The City." It's really a just a skit, but every bit as charming as Cinderella's Prince used to be. Keep an eye on Ms. Miller.

    APRIL 11, 2004

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