by Daniels, Jill

Film: 16mm 1975


'In Debacle a group of non-professional actors improvise scenes from Jean Paul Sartre's thriller Crime Passionel and read from The Ipcress File, a thriller novel. The 'group' in Debacle has a vague political identity and its violent actions take place elsewhere. The film questions the conventions of cinematic narrative by breaking all the narrative codes: identification with the characters, emotional empathy, climaxes and resolution. Scenes are continually repeated using different actors, different locations and different expression. Voiceovers are heard at the same time as scenes are enacted. Different styles of camera are used: point-of-view, ten-minute static takes, long pans, filmed stills of the scenes. Gradually a mosaic of different levels of emotion and identification is built up. Narrators begin the process of identification by allowing us to share their inner feelings of loneliness and mistrust of the other characters, but never allow a resolution of the feelings. Our reading of the film tells us as much about the actors as they do about the characters they play on the screen.' - J. D.


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