Blue Planet

Blue Planet

2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5 out of 5 2.5

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Influential and highly regarded by the likes of Godfrey Reggio, Bernardo Bertolucci and Andrei Tarkovsky but practically unseen since its 1981 premiere, Franco Piavoli’s Blue Planet climaxes early with a man and woman stripping, frolicking and sucking face on a patch of grass, their behavior paralleled to the non-primate couples bumping uglies nearby. Piavoli, a painter before he became a filmmaker, begins the film with a thrilling evocation of a changing season, exaggerating the sounds of nature as water ebbs and flows, lingering on amoeba-like shapes created by chunks of melting ice and catching light nervously reflected on running water. As witnessed here, nature is its own avant-garde artist, but Blue Planet loses some of its splendor when Piavoli diverts his gaze to the world of humans. Workers use metal tools to divert the natural flow of a stream, but the director is less interested in contemplating the effects of man on nature (and vice versa) than he is in paralleling modes of communication. So, not far from where ice melts, a frog mounts its mate and a spider furiously spins a web around its prey, his camera entering a gorgeous country house to record the behavioral habits of an Italian family. Smiling, eating, sexing, reading and sleeping are all wildly aestheticized and often depicted as shadowplay, but also made vulgar when normal speech patterns are reduced to moans and grunts. Piavoli is reminding us of our primal natures, but his human subjects behave as if they’ve been rehearsed—weeping incredulously, rolling stones, running through rooms as if being chased by ghosts, and waking up in the night to point at and mumble over a map of the land. Fight nature hard enough and nature will fight back, which is probably why the decay Piavoli captures toward film’s end is so haunting, but direct your human subjects too much and you end up with a Tarkovskian pantomime.

Runtime
80 min
Rating
NR
Year
1981
Director
Franco Piavoli