Topographies of being
Space, sensation, and spectatorship in the films of Bruno Dumont
in Space and being in contemporary French cinema
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This chapter examines Bruno Dumont's films in chronological order, starting with La Vie de Jesus and Lhumanite which establish the principles of his spatial practice. It explores in detail their key climactic scenes, paying particular attention to the use of reverse-field shot and the relations between external space, point-of-view, and montage. The chapter shows how the different kinds of space put into play in his work: external, filmic, spectatorial, aesthetic, all come down to the essential question of man's relationship with nature. It argues that if his first two films serve as templates for the films that follow, Twentynine Palms, which even his most well-disposed critics have regarded as a major aberration on account of its final descent into hard-core gore. Those films actually mark a progressive move away from a syndrome of relentless interiorisation.

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