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.
- 80 min
- Franco Piavoli
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: