Limitless Cinema in Broken English

January 20, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — celinejulie @ 11:13 pm


This is about a poll in my bilingual blog at

My poll 45 is inspired by LE MONDE VIVANT, a strange film of which its most memorable images are the ones in which we see only the hands of the characters, not the bodies or the faces of the characters.

There is something happening offscreen in every film, because every film can’t show everything which happens around the lives of its characters or every moment of its characters. In most films, the sex scenes happen offscreen, but the porn films do the opposite.

The films I choose here and the ones in which something important happens offscreen, or something which should be shown in most films is not shown in these films.


1.AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (1966, Robert Bresson, France)

2.L’AVVENTURA (1960, Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy)
The cause of the disappearance of a character and her fate are never shown or explained.

3.LA BELLE NOISEUSE (1991, Jacques Rivette, France)
The important painting is shown to the characters, but not the audience of this film.

4.BLISSFULLY YOURS (2002, Apichatpong, Weerasethakul, Thailand)
A middle-aged guy is shot dead by some thieves in this film, but it happens offscreen. We only hear its noises. But his corpse turns up in the beginning of TROPICAL MALADY.

5.CASA DE LAVA (1994, Pedro Costa, Portugal)
I think the ending part of this film is so full of ellipses that I don’t understand anything any more.

You can read about CASA DE LAVA in The Evening Class’ blog here:

6.EUROPA 2005 – 27 OCTOBER (2006, Jean-Marie Straub + Daniele Huillet, France)
The death of the two teenagers happened before this film begins.
You can watch this film here.

7.FACE, MASK (หน้า, หน้ากาก) (2008, Eakapojd Djangkijkul, Thailand)
I watched this short film only once, and I don’t understand it at all in the first viewing. I guess there’s a crime happening in this film, but I’m not sure which characters are the criminals and which are the victims. The crime scenes may be omitted from this film, may be not. We may see only what some characters do before and after the crimes.

8.FALLEN (2005, Fred Kelemen, Latvia)
The suicide of one or two characters happens offscreen.

9.5 x 2 (2004, Francois Ozon, France)
We are never sure about the causes of the break-up of this couple.

10.FORGET ME (1994, Noemie Lvovsky, France)
There’s a car accident scene in this film, but we see only the face of the heroine (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi), and are not quite sure how the accident looks like.

11.4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS (2007, Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
There are two rapes happening offscreen in this film. In fact, I think rape scenes are one of the most frequently omitted scenes in films, with understandable reasons.

12.GHOSTS (2005, Christian Petzold, Germany)
We never see or know if one of the heroines has that birthmark or not.

13.GLORIA (1999, Manuela Viegas,Portugal)
There are ellipses near the end of the film, and many viewers are not sure about what really happens.

14.THE HEADLESS WOMAN (2008, Lucrecia Martel, Argentina)

15.LORNA’S SILENCE (2008, Jean-Pierre Dardenne + Luc Dardenne, Belgium)
The murder of a character happens offscreen.

16.LE MONDE VIVANT (2003, Eugene Green, France)

17.NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007, Joel Coen + Ethan Coen, USA)
The murders of two important characters happen offscreen near the end of the film.

18.A SCENE AT THE SEA (1991, Takeshi Kitano, Japan)

19.SHARA (2003, Naomi Kawase, Japan)
I’m not sure what happens to the brother of the hero.

20.SLOW MOTION (1980, Jean-Luc Godard, France)
Marguerite Duras is offscreen in this film.

You can cast multiple votes



  1. This is my reply to Vespertine in my bilingual blog:

    I think like you about THE HEADLESS WOMAN. I like this film a lot, but it seems critics all over the world also love this film, so I think I don’t have to vote for it.

    The offscreen murders in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and LORNA’S SILENCE affect me a lot. It’s not only because they occur offscreen, but it is also because the characters I love are murdered. The character played by Kelly Macdonald does nothing wrong at all, but she is murdered. The hero of LORNA’S SILENCE made me wish he could redeem himself or improve himself, but the world is too cruel to let it happen.

    I agree that the time lapse in LORNA’S SILENCE is amazing. The time suddenly jumps forward, and it takes a while before we realize that a murder occurred and many days have passed already.

    Comment by celinejulie — January 22, 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  2. This is my reply to Vespertine in my bilingual blog:

    Vespertine, I like your writing about “what is in the air” of VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and SHARA very much. It also reminds me of the two films I love—FREVEL (1984, Peter Fleischmann, West Germany) and EUROPA 2005 – 27 OCTOBER (Straub+Huillet), because something strong, powerful, and invisible is in the air of these two films. FREVEL is about a policeman who tries to understand why a woman kills a child. The murder of the child happened before the film begins. We never see the murder. We are never sure about anything in this murder. We never understand it even after the film ends. But there is something very creepy in the air of this film. And I think this kind of creepy atmosphere is one of the most difficult things a filmmaker can create.

    I think EUROPA 2005 – 27 OCTOBER takes the idea of “something is in the air” to the extreme.

    Talking about the offscreen climax, it reminds me of the Chinese novel “RID MEED SUN” (THE POWER OF SHORT KNIVES or THE ROMANTIC SWORDSMAN), written by Gow Leng. If I remember it correctly, near the end of this novel, the no.1 martial-art master, who belongs to the good side and is the grandfather of the heroine, duels with the no.2 martial-art master, who is the archvillain of this novel, but the no.1 master is killed in this duel. The hero just learns about all of this fact after the duel ended and the good guy was killed. When I read this novel many years ago, I was very disappointed that the novelist hadn’t described this duel scene in details, because I think it is a very important event and it should make a very exciting fighting scene. But the novelist didn’t create any excitement out of this important event at all. He just skipped the details of this fighting event and wrote only about the result of this fighting. I don’t know what I should call this kind of writing technique. It’s like “offscreen” in films, but there is no “screen” on the page of novels. So what should I call it?

    This is the title of the TV series THE ROMANTIC SWORDSMAN (1978):

    Comment by celinejulie — January 23, 2009 @ 10:04 pm

  3. This is my reply to Matthew Hunt in my bilingual blog:

    I didn’t know that the US version has no lapdance scene. I guess the version shown here in Bangkok is the European version.

    I think what I like the most in DEATH PROOF is the ways in which Tarantino frustrates (or in my point of view–“liberate”) some audience by not showing what they expect to see. He shows them long talking scenes instead. The massacre scene in the middle of the film also happens too fast. DEATH PROOF, like PULP FICTION and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (which he co-wrote), show me that films don’t have to be formulaic.

    Comment by celinejulie — January 26, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

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