Mar 28, 2008

Black Night

Black Night (Nuit Noire) is the debut feature length film from the surrealist director Olivier Smolders. The film follows a Natural Sciences Museum conservator, Oscar, who has a perverse insect fetish that eventually turns completely sexual. One day, he comes home to find a naked pregnant African woman occupying his bed. He is immediately both disgusted and disturbed by the woman’s occupation of his domestic habitat. She is sweating and dying of an unmentioned disease.

Since Black Night is “weird,” “dark,” and “surreal,” the film has been compared to the works of American auteur David Lynch. I don’t really find much in common with Black Night and films by David Lynch. People really need to stop comparing every film conflicting with linear film cohesion to David Lynch. Surrealist directors have existed since the birth of cinema. Olivier Smolders has a more concrete vision in mind than David Lynch (especially when comparing the film to Inland Empire or Mulholland Dr.). Black Night has also been compared to the writing of novelist Franz Kafka (I assume especially the Metamorphosis) which is more a reasonable assertion.

I can already hear Spike Lee calling Black Night a racist surrealist film. The African woman featured in Black Night dies and Oscar starts constructing a cocoon out of her body. When the cocoon finally hatches, something “whiter” appears. I doubt it was the director’s intention to involve race in the film, but with contemporary America and “academia’s” cultural Marxist (whether they know it or not) obsession with such matters, it is inevitable.

Black Night also features footage of pre-colonial Africa (not real stock footage of course). Two white Europeans (man and child) in expedition clothes and two Africans (Woman and child) in native garb smile for the camera peacefully. Knowing how Africa fell into complete shambles after colonization, this scene invokes irony at an unintentionally (or I assume) absurd level. Black Night seems to be a fusion of an artists subconscious and his own personal obsession. Two elements that have always made for powerful and sincere art.

Director Olivier Smolders is someone to look out for in the future. He has a pellucid vision as all great artists should. The surrealist images found in Black Night carry a resonance that will stay with you long after the film is over. Identical Nordic elderly men, mutilated little girls, and alien-like insects all come together to construct a film of aesthetically dynamic radiance.

-Ty E


peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

Are the little girls buggered before they are mutilated?.

Anonymous said...

Olivier Smolders is an even more absurd name than Jervaise Brooke Hamster.