A Visit to the Louvre (Une Visite Au Louvre, Straub & Huillet, 2004)

“Why not burn down the Louvre then, if one is afraid of what is beautiful?”

Exhilarating. Why? Because Straub and Huillet, armed with just the images of the paintings discussed by Cezanne and Gasquet and their words on these pieces, have hit upon something truly thrilling (a different type of thrill than that of the thriller, but a profund one all the same). What they have hit upon is reinvigoration, rebirth, reimmersion (even in those vicious attacks on the modern painters Cezanne despises and the carelessness of Louvre curation, one feels reawakened to something). The old paintings in frozen frames in frozen positions on the wall still swarm with life, and the thrill is having that life bought back to full, inescapable visibility, taken directly into the eyes and mind of the viewer in crafted streams of light and colour, by the power of the words and the thinking of an eye, a mind, a body (Cezanne) that knows, understands and, most importantly, just simply already sees that life better than almost anyone. These are lessons in actually looking, full of passion and fire, that are being delivered and re-delivered to us. Straub and Huillet linger over each detail and each work because they know that the goal of this film is to linger. They add something extra too, something after Cezanne- the effects of the sunlight from the windows of the Louvre that hit the paintings, the rich deep colours of the walls where they hang, panning shots of forests that resemble Courbet. Straub and Huillet see another kind of life, one surrounding the works themselves also. And as a result of all this the gaze in our life is reawakened and new shades, new compositions, new beauty and a refreshed way of thinking emerges.

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