Saturday, February 27, 2010

Océans (Malestroit)

Should the film Oceans come to your city, run (swim fast?) don't walk to go. It's lush and splendid and incredible and sobering. The bande annonce (trailer) alone gives you a good idea of the scope and magnitude of it all. You find yourself in a rich tradition of French nature documentary film-making (yes, you think of Jacques Cousteau), and then just go with it. The kids were completely enthralled, and I think of how many of these films which make their point about ecological conservation through the sheer beauty of the earth (think Happy Feet) they've seen growing up. Skyping with his little buddy tonight, Oliver emphatically said "We share the earth, we don't own it!" - his buddy absolutely agreed. They shot this film all over the planet, and the region of Brittany featured prominently within it (each of the departments were named, including ours, the Morbihan - yea!). I can't imagine how they got half their shots: just incredible sequences of dolphin runs and a group of whales all surging out of the water out of the same time. Reading The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch put into words a great deal of the awe of the sea: its relentlessness (nothing is ever at rest in it), its profound uncaring (tragedy after tragedy can unfold and still the tide never ceases), its precariousness and fragility despite all of that strength... In any case, I hope that you get to see the film - say hi to the mother walrus and her baby for me!

We saw the movie in the coolest movie theater ever, in nearby (half an hour) Malestroit. They had painted sets and old time shooting cameras and an old time digital protector, and painted walls that looked like the backdrop for a movie scene. Mac shot the kids in black and white here, but their puffy coats give them away as modern beings. Otherwise, you'd think it was 1940s in the cobbled streets of Paris. What a great movie theater - true "cinéphile" (film lover) set-up.

Some kind of super heavy rain has settled in and promises to stick around for a while, so we really should have gotten back in the car to go home when the film was over, but instead, we walked around the wonderful town square (Place Bouffay) where I was able to get some pictures of 15th century secular house decorations....

A pig with a spindle (Michael Camille had a terrific article about this image - insulting, territorial, I need to look it up again) and...

...a very worried bagpipe playing donkey (I would be, too, if I had that big, blue hungry dragon so close to me), and...

...a rather saucy hunter, sticking his tongue out either at his perfectly quiet neighbor on the house or, more disconcertingly, in the direction of the church on the square.

Iris was a very good sport about walking around and looking for these guys. There's more to revisit here - I know from that house in Ste.-Croix that this was a merchant's house whence wares were sold; the big stone slabs in front of the windows tells me so.

We gathered everyone for a coffee/hot chocolate in a café on the square and on the way picked up a little prize that Iris had been wanting for weeks - they're selling these little napping puppies now; truly unsettling, but she and Eleanor are beside themselves with joy at owning one (5 euros, thank goodness) and (no surprise), Iris has given it a schedule. And so we're winding down our amazing 2-week vacation. I must say that it went by fast, and that I'm turning to work with determination and not a little trepidation: we have 6 weeks until the next break and I'd like to have a lot of work "in hand" by then. 6 weeks sounds like a good long time, though - another go at All Things French in French for the kids, too!

Of course, one of the lasting images of vacation will be of Eleanor playing foozball on a rainy afternoon in a café in Malestroit, while the rest of us caught up on the England-Ireland rugby match. Long live the peace, love, time, and serendipity of vacation!

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