Pays barbare Screen 5 articles

Pays barbare


Pays barbare Poster
  • Occasional voiceover, combined with poetic repetition and plangent Sprechstimme, drive the point home, but they also beautify Pays Barbare to such an extent that the actual content of the Italian footage—what is being done to whom, and how power is being administered—is frequently invisible.

  • By way of its opening film, the sponsor-unfriendly Pays Barbare (Barbaric Land) by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi – a half-convincing attempt to show the contemporary relevance of archive footage of Italy’s fascist colonial past – the festival expressed its determination not to surrender to the blackmail of austerity.

  • The film isn’t content to just summon weighty historical content; it allows the specific lightness of each moment to interrupt (along with a few decrepit old songs on the soundtrack), making the experience of viewing fragmentary—each small visual pleasure indistinguishable from a corresponding horror.

  • Though prone to seemingly arbitrary aesthetic choices—colouring or negativizing the footage, for instance—there are moments of chilling power here. One such moment is that in which a telegram is read in voice-over, in which Mussolini vindicates the use of gas “for superior reasons of national defence” (i.e., the extermination of a mass race). Another is the film’s parting line, which confronts its audience to remind them of a banal but immovable truth. Each period has its fascism.

  • Pays barbare evocatively renders the delusional narrative of righteous might and submissive “other” that underlies these clips. A plaintive, partly sung voiceover runs through, like a dirge, and unveils the camera as an unwitting, but damning witness but also a handy, pliable tool in the dissemination of colonial myths.

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