Thursday, December 4, 2008

The character who survives the tricks of the Trickster

Tonight I attended Strange Brew at the Schlafly Bottleworks. Webster University Film Series presented City of Lost Children in a brewpub, screened on reel-to-reel, to a comfortably crowded room of people who were friendly to me and patient with the projectionist when he encountered some technical difficulties between reels two and three. Even the bartender was nice as heck when I smashed a glass on the floor in the act of getting my sketchbook out of somebody's way.

It was a good night to be in St. Louis County. It was a night when I felt like there is the right stuff to do here and a lot of interesting people also wanting to do it. What can I say? I have a five-year-old and I don't get out very much.

Having a five-year-old will jack you up when you watch City of Lost Children. Directed by Caro & Jeunet, it's about a bad guy who can't dream so he kidnaps children to steal theirs. Somewhere, I'm sure the film is banned by some well-intentioned mothers who lack my yen for experimental film. Even yenning for experimental film as I do, and having attempted to make one that has a complicated role for a child actor, I squirmed through the scenes of children actually crying and the one simulated strangulation of a little girl who looks much like mine.

Okay, there - I didn't know I had an inner Tipper Gore.

As the barkeep who swept up my broken glass knows best, I brought a sketchbook to the screening. Confronted by a visually sumptuous filmic canvas that left me in heartbroken awe after every frame, I ... did what I always do. I drew caricatures and jotted down beside them a pregnant line the person said while I was drawing them.

This is the bad guy and the girl who almost gets strangled - not to mention drowned, torched, crushed by a steamship, and trapped inside an evil man's nightmare.

But she survives. That's what I like about this heartbreaking line. "Mister, don't trick me too." It's the voice of the eternal survivor. The Trickster is a great (anti-)hero in world literature and cinema, but I wonder if we have come up with a word for the character that continues to evolve around the tricks of others?

If not, I'll offer the French name of Miette, the name of the girl in this film, played unforgettably by Judith Vittet. The Miette is the character who survives the tricks of The Trickster.
Watch the trailer and you'll know what I mean, if you don't already.

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