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Innocence (2004)
The end of innocence...the beginning of life.

At an unusual private school for girls, new students, including young Iris, show up in coffins. The establishment's teachers, Mademoiselle Eva and Mademoiselle Edith, introduce Iris and her fellow pupils to the school's curriculum, which includes fairy-like dances through a nearby forest. When night falls, the older girls, who are on the threshold of womanhood, are then given mysterious, life-changing lessons.

Innocence (2004)

Moving Into

“Institute Benjamenta” folded into “Picnic at Hanging Rock”

“Maladolescenza” folded into “Stalker”

“Yume“ folded into “Drowning with numbers”

“Au revoir les enfants” folded into “Suspiria“

“Sex and Lucia” folded into “Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary”

These movements formed into a star. That star subtracted from the lid of a coffin, inside which no one moves. Outside of which, a world approaches.


I would like to steer you to this film. I do think it works. I do think it will penetrate and bond. The reason is the absolute trust in the image. There is very little we are told, and always less that could be. All the spoken narrative is pared, together with the context and explanation. Everything you get, you get through the eye. Narrative by eye allows the optic nerve to awaken explicit reasoning abilities that usually are dormant. The nerve is both channel to the brain and brainlike.

In most of us, it takes a while for these reasoning abilities to awake. Some of us are blessed with a shorter time, some take longer. All of us should get there by the time of the ballet performances, probably the weakest part of this construction. But get there you will, because there is nothing else to stand on.


Bright Star did one image much better, this visual butterfly poetry of unknown future of presence. But the business here with the hair ribbons is so precious that I will keep an image of rainbow discovery of place of self with me all my life. That alone will change the way you dream.


It helped me enormously to have seen Marie Cotillard in some other powerful roles before seeing here her as the mistress of the place. All of her projections in the world outside this movie were imposed on her similar projections as a character outside the world of the “school.”


Since there are fumbles, let me point to the one that I noticed. Water plays a key role here. We open by flowing with (not watching, but in) a powerful natural waterfall. We end with similar, but woman-made fountain that carries us away. In between, the place of the film is characterised by its lake. The senior girl who leaves every night into hormonal mystery walks into rain. There are glistening, moist tunnels under the place, that the younger girls can only wonder about by peering through an occluding grate.

Learning to swim in the lake is conflated into learning to dance like a butterfly. All of this is heavy investment in image. Each time we touch water, the cinematography is striking. But there is no coherence. A more mature filmmaker, even an intuitive like Herzog, would have worked on this, the visual narrative coherence in the architecture of cinematic water.

It was missing, and it told me that the filmmaker wears an orange ribbon.

Posted in 2010

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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