26 June 2009


"... and those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." (Friederich Nietzsche)

This is a sequence from Le Bal, a French/Algerian film by Ettore Scola adapted from a theatre play (1983).
It begins in a dimly lit dance hall. The first to enter are women, one by one. Then the men enter and they settle at the bar. The selection of dancing partners ensues.
Women attract.
Men select.
The former, an art form.
The latter, a lottery.
We are then treated to a series of vignettes in music and dance over a period of fifty years, each vignette ending with a photo still. Finally, each character departs as alone and anonymously as they entered the dance hall.
The entire film takes place in the dance hall. Not a single word of spoken dialogue takes place.
In Europe, such social games between adult strangers are extinct.
Borges was right about tango, though. In Argentina, tango ballrooms remain packed with courageous men, seeking adventure and seeking to dance the tales of their forefathers with a mother, a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter.

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