Here is Where it is Wonderful (The Tectonics of Desire)
Harold Manning, Catalogue pointligneplan, Léo Scheer, 2001.
Arnold Pasquier entered the world of cinema dancing. From film to film, his dance has grown more and more peculiar. It is rooted in a ground well-known to us cinema people: the desire to be with Her, to be with Him, the world of adolescence, the thirst for intimacy and admiration, the inexperienced gazes, the unspeakable need to suffer someday, very strongly. And the music heard on records.

Looking at his oeuvre one would think that Arnold Pasquier films a lot of dancing. And he does. More than others, anyway. But the matter he produces, the very simple statements he utters in a low key make us believe that he himself is dancing through his films, one step forward, one step backward, alone in the light, taking risks on his own.

In Arnold Pasquier’s dance, seeing and showing merge as the two sides of the same presence to the world, of the same desire. Showing, always showing to give back to the world what it had secretly created. Relentlessly showing to keep our eyes open and to open those of our neighbor, to arouse his/her desire, to have him/her reach ecstasy. Through its own filters, through the trajectory of a gaze (that of a lone man lurking behind the camera), cinema can free the spirits.

Films are said to cast a “social gaze” upon the world. It has become a habit. Intrusive filmmakers like to hold this gaze, overdo it just to be able to put in their two cents. This social gaze defines and puts viewers and characters in their place. Everybody is welcome on-screen as long as everybody does not include me. “Everybody” is the others. In this regard, Arnold Pasquier’s films cast no social gaze at all.

Films also have a sexed gaze. And Arnold Pasquier’s films willingly drift along this stream. The gaze is amorously riveted towards the other and his/her mysteries. In this numb context, nothing subsides, everything speeds up, cinema moves forward. When taken to such a burning point, active sensuality can become frightening for it never branches towards cruelty, another element well-known to cinema people. On the contrary, this sensuality represents a newly-found, yet strangely familiar freedom, straightforward, devoid of arguments, available, a pure gift. Arnold Pasquier does not need to shock people to feel better. C’est ici que je donne des baisers (This is Where I Kiss) and C’est merveilleux (It’s Wonderful) depict desire in such a straightforward way that they challenge our relationship to it, our embarrassment, our enthusiasm, our emotion when facing the mirror.

Is C’est ici que je donne des baisers (This is Where I Kiss) truly divided into three parts? If so, it should be specified that each one of them belongs to a particular category of the common cinematic lexicon. My first is a self-portrait (and an experimental movie about dancing), my second an interview (documentary cinema, committed cinema) and my third, a fiction film. And my whole could fall under any of them and be ranked in any of these categories. But I’d rather see this movie as a series of shots, sequence-shots exclusively. They span a wide variety of configurations from the most simple ones (documentary rush, 10-minute still-shot interview, the time a film-magazine lasts, just enough time for us to feel time passing by, to sense the out-of-frame presence of the filmmaker asking the questions while taming time to the most refined ones (the track-in opening the film, at the very beginning of the screening when the viewer is still wondering what he/she is doing there, before the triptych – where each part is throwing light on the two others – has actually had an effect). The most complex one is also the most enthralling of the three: the track-out lighting up the final walk on the path, the real-time chassé-croisé of the bodies, the hazards of live filming, the elation of the words in their own time and space, an enthusiastic moment of cinema. Turning into fiction towards the end, the film suddenly lowers its mask. Seriousness and worry still linger, but are now expressed in a rather cheerful way: in a fit of laughter or in the pleasure of the words, in a reconciling dance step with the ghost, in Guilaine Londez, Nathalie De Barros and Donata d’Urso’s telluric beauty.

If C’est ici que je donne des baisers (This is Where I Kiss) is a collage, C’est merveilleux / (It’s Wonderful) uses the very links between the scenes as raw material. Six characters give the floor to each other, a pair in each scene, exploring the whole range of inner, amorous and shameless confession. The way the scenes follow from one to the next (which could be called mannerism) gives the feeling that the movie is, once again, not so much filmed as danced. By borrowing from The Band Wagon’s soundtrack (the song set in Central Park), Pasquier celebrates the art of switching from one place to another, from one atmosphere to the next, from a melodic tune to the opposite musical theme (actually three different scores not so much blended with each other as merely juxtaposed: Carriage in the Park, High and Low and the famous Dancing in the Dark). In Minnelli’s film, Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire do not start dancing out of the blue: their night walk across the park, their strolling in tune side by side, everything that has been keeping them apart until then, all this inexorably yet silently triggers their dance. In C’est merveilleux (It’s Wonderful), the leading thread is but an emotional one as well). The viewer barely discovers anything about the characters, if not for their most intimate confession and the account of when their feelings reached their sharpest end. Any social discrepancy whatsoever is erased. Here they are, freed, carried away by the film to the very best of themselves to speak, transmit and listen. One can feel the joy lighting up their faces, their bodies, a kind of offering). And yet, each of their faces seems to be filled with gloom by the suspicion of a tragic fate willingly silenced by the narrative. « Viens dans mes bras, montre-moi ce que tu me promets.» (“Come into my arms, show what you promise me.”). The camera is on the lookout for any state of grace. The tragedy will occur, but outside of the frame. Gurvan Cloâtre’s serene face and reassuringly gentle voice will fail in preventing anything. Marika Rizzi might as well keep on riding down the sun-drenched hills in her small bohemian cart, deluding herself into believing we are at peace with the world. The film only wants to see the gorgeous, the birth of a feeling, the silent tectonics of desire in motion.

Arnold Pasquier speaks of love in a brutal and methodical fashion, about love until exhaustion, as if he were striving to reject the dreadful idea that since love had a beginning, it might as well have an end. He emphasizes the characters’ deep confusion as love plants its seed inside them. He knows, however, that there have always been misunderstandings between all sincere people and that these very disorders have provided a frame shaping all human bonds. Though he knows it, he remains inconsolable. The screening ends on a note that resembles him: a close shot of Eva Truffaut’s face at the very end of C’est merveilleux (It’s Wonderful).