AN URBAN POEM BY JOACHIM TRIER : OSLO, AUGUST 31st
Posted on July 31, 2012 by Rémi Borgeaud
A young man, Anders, leaves a detox center and we follow him during his first 24 hours of freedom in Oslo. Since the beginning we understand that this character is “at the edge of the cliff”. It’s magic hour time; the sun diffuses a warm light into a romantic pine forest. Alone, Anders looks down at a lake. His back, in the foreground is out of focus. Anders faces dark water shimmering under the sun. In one shot, Triers gives us Anders’s emptiness feeling without any heavy thoughts. The film’s inspiration resides in the use of Oslo as urban scenery. Anders’s loneliness theme is developed during the main character city trip by a clear camera work on the depth of field. Sometimes Anders is in the foreground out or in focus. Sometimes there is just a glimpse of his body which defines the foreground. But in every shot Joachim Triers and his director of photography build their frames around this depth of field’s tension, shaping Anders’s difficulty of finding connections in his world. The city is there, interacting with the main character and providing the viewer Anders’s urban kaleidoscopical journey experience. Antonioni’s ecclisse world is not far away…Sound is also part of Anders’s sensorial riveting journey. There is a scene where the main character follows talks in a Cafe. Anders creates his own sound universe where visual is disconnected from sounds, where somebody talking outside becomes closer than a couple arguing next to him. Trier and his sounds engineer play with the sound space -using sound close ups- to create Anders sensitive world. Without any pathos, reality becomes a playground for Anders’s quest of life’s meaning. Finally, part of the film’s beauty is summarized in the beginning. Trier mixes archives footage with memories in voice over. Somehow we are close to what Sei Shonagon did in her pillow’s book in the 11th century. She classified in one list “splendid things”, in another one “rare things”. Triers build here a bright universe which could be part of a Sei Shonagon’s list “things that give you pleasure”. This sensorial golden age sequence ends with the sudden destruction of the Philips Tower in Oslo. The end’s sequence is powerful. The violence emanated from the building’s destruction, throw us into a profound moving emptiness
As his Danish namesake, Joachim Trier invites us to a poetic trip to melancholia. It’s dark, ethereal and beautiful like a Black Heart Procession song.