Lilja 4-ever - depressive, moralistic, dispensable?

Discuss Lukas Moodysson's other films and films featuring actors in his films here.

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Postby kant1781 » Mon Sep 18, 2006 1:07 pm

I'm afraid you rush over the differences I try to make. :?

1. I didn't say that art is born in a vacuum or that a true artist doesn't react to the problems of his society. Goya did, Celan did, and Moodysson did. Of course art often is political in that it describes or otherwise presents a political state of affairs in the world. And the attitude of the artist is part of his artistic presentation, so works of art may legitimately be viewed as lamentations or accusations of such states of the world. In that way (though in wildly different ways and contexts), Goya expresses his protest against the French occupation, Celan against the barbarism of the Shoah, and Moodysson against child prostitution.

2. It confuses me that you seem to think that I wanted to deny that L4E has a political point. Well of course it has, in just the above sense: It shows what a horror child prostitution is (like Goya showed the horror of tyranny, and Celan, if you like, showed the horror of the camps). That's all but evident, and I made the point explicitly in the beginning of the debate. And I don't see how the works of art I mentioned as examples differ here: Just like Goya's paintings moved people to take up arms against their oppressors, and just like reading Celan may confirm one's conviction that something like this must not ever happen again, so L4E might move one to dedicate part of one's life (or at least part of one's money) to the prevention of child abuse. If you feel that you must do something about it, why expect LM to give you the details? There are many organizations out there who lead the fight against global child prostitution, there are all kinds of ways of supporting them. Fighting against child prostitution is just as easy or as difficult as fighting against fascism. Where's the difference?

3. Our disagreement has its roots in the fact that you said that the kind of being political I described above ("just" describing or presenting a horrible state of affairs, leaving it up to people how to react) is somehow "not enough". What you want is not a description but a guideline to action, a pointing out of "solutions" which you then can think about following. This is what I said art has no truck with. And nothing you said shows anything to the contrary, and I repeat my claim that the artist does not have to develop recipes or recommendations for curing the horrors he shows us. And most artists don't. In particular, Goya doesn't, Celan doesn't, and Moodysson doesn't. They are exactly on par here. Goya's paintings don't come with the recommendation to take up arms written on them, and Celan's poems don't end with the recommendation not to vote for right-wing parties or any other proposals. What kind of "solutions" does Celan "hint at" that Moodysson somehow misses?? If I read Celan the way you watch Moodysson, I should complain: "Celan is telling me not to put people into concentration camps, but I already knew that!! And now I feel so bad, but he doesn't give me any solutions how to prevent other people from doing it!" This would obviously be ridiculous as a reaction towards Celan's poetry. If this was what he wanted, he would have failed just as miserably as Moodysson fails in your eyes - for just like child rapists don't watch L4E, Nazis don't read Celan.
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Postby Spain_1 » Mon Sep 18, 2006 3:59 pm

Clouzot’s film “Les diaboliques” begins with a quotation from whom I can’t remember, but it’s something like that:
A picture it is always moral if it travels deep enough in the horror that it depicts (sorry but these are not the exact words).

I’m pretty surprised about the reaction that this film provokes into you, Kolya, reaction that you surely share with a lot of people. There are plenty of films that show complete meaningless horror that don’t make people react that way. And artists in all times had only the mission to describe their lifetime, by direct images or symbols, the reading we make in their pictures it’s only up to us.
It’s always been a universal truth that a message only reaches the but if the receiver is already capable of receiving it, but it doesn’t mean that it is meaningless to send it. The problem nowadays is that public impact due to communication means is enormous.
But, does any artist in history ever hided his message because it was not to be read by the right persons?.

I Wrote:
You think I take too much drugs before the films

:lol:

Before everything, to discuss at the same level I will tell you that I’m not a believer, so my outlook is made from my non believer incomplete look into religion.
Well Maybe I’m not able to explain myself but I’m not able to make the same reading as you do. I can’t get the feeling that the message LM intended to send is that her life was meaningless. And maybe it is over the top a biblical reading, but I can’t avoid to see an intent to depict a sanctification process of the innocence of childhood. Christian lookout into the world is filled with the notion of sacrifice and redemption by it.
I’m aware of what you said, Kant, and that’s right the reading is inversed, she does not clearly redeem the world by her act, at least consciously, but the act of the death is directly linked with an idea of redemption and salvation in a religious sense.

Maybe we can’t share the true religious believing, but why do we have to be completely in the same mood than a film to leave it make us reflect, or try to understand what it was said to us?.
What I mean is that, you’re right, from a non believer opinion, it is a completely meaningless death, but the image of Lilya’s life it is to be taken in the global sense it was given to us, and in that sense, even if we are not able to share it, the message is not as hopeless as we are making it.

In any case, as I said, a pleasure to have your reactions.

^O^
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Postby Kolya » Mon Sep 18, 2006 6:35 pm

The difference is that the French occupation of Spain was something that affected every Spanish man's life very directly. Goya may not have written over his pictures: "Take up your arms and fight the opressors!" but the subtext was clearly that. He didn't have to say it explicitly because it was completely clear to every Spaniard what he was up to.

Paul Celan's subtext, (taking "Todesfuge" as an example here, as I think you meant that.) is a bit harder to unravel because he restraints and obfuscates his own motivation. Actually it's not so much of a reminder I think, upon reading it again. It may look like it from today's point of view but if you just look at the text, it's really an accusation barely hiding the (understandable) hate that drives it.
Meh, I guess we could make a new thread just for this poem, but what I mean is: Celane didn't make the subtext easily accessible. And I don't think it is what we previously assumed here it was.
If it was to fight fascism then the course of action Celane pointed at is quite clear, as during the time of the publication many people in Germany's key positions were still very much intertwined with the nazi regime. And in fact every German who read or heard this poem could be assumed to have been part of the Reich. So again we have a very personal and direct calling to the audience. Namely to think over and take responsibilit for their part in this desaster.


Back to LM again:
While I have read and heard about it I have never personally come in touch with child prostitution, lest taken part in it myself. And while LM tries to make the point it could happen next door ... meh, that's rather unbelievable here I have to say, seemed more like a spectacular plot twist than anything else. Because face it: If that guy next door hadn't had earplugs, Lilya's kidnapper would have been sent to jail. A bit too much risk for someone who seems to do this professionally, eh?
So that may be part of why this movie doesn't affect me as a call to action. What he describes isn't part of my life in any way as it was with the examples above where the course of action, even if not described explicitly was clear from the art's subtext.

If I met someone now, who'd preach to me of the evils of nazis for over an hour, describing in every horrible detail how people were burned to ashes alive I would tell this person to shut up and tell that to someone who a) doesn't know that already and b) is in some way affected by it. Because I'm not a nazi, I don't know any nazis, and the last time I have even seen some skinheads from far away has been years ago. (It's a bit different here in Cologne than in other parts of Germany I guess.)

Now I can imagine how people will jump at me for not caring for something that doesn't happen in my vicinity. Oh the ignorance!
But this is nothing but cheap talk to make the person feel better about himself. Because if you really think about it, how much percent of the world's problem did you solve lately?
Right. So think global and act local. If I ever see a nazi or a rape or anything as horrible as that, I'm not the kind who is too afraid to help. I have stood up in the past when I felt there was injustice going on and I will continue to do so.
But I knew that before L4E. And there is quite some condescension towards his audience in assuming they would need to see his movie to learn such basic things. I tried to point that out already. He tries to make you feel bad, while you didn't do a damn thing. (That's the biggest religious aspect I see in this movie.)

And he even deliberately negates the possibility of help:
What about that police officer? Lilya thinks she will arrest her and send her back to Russia while all she would have done probably was try to help her in the first place. She might have saved her life. But she doesn't get a chance because that would kinda destroy the movie, right?
If we saw that not everyone but the victims of violence are ruthless bastards but the biggest part of the world consists of normal, friendly and helpful people, what would that mean for this movie? Would it have been too shallow, too undramatic? Too FA like?

That's what I mean by Moodysson's dark vision. First he constructs a world where everything is deterministic towards a terrible ending for an innocent victim and then he let's us participate in it's epic suffering only to show what? That he has a twisted mind?
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Postby kant1781 » Mon Sep 18, 2006 10:10 pm

Yeah, okay. I will end this debate now... It is always a pleasure to discuss with you, Kolya, honestly, but in this particular case here I have the feeling that we keep talking past each other. I just re-read it all from the beginning and I just don't know what to add without repeating myself over and over again.
You keep on stressing the point that L4E fails as a call to action, first because it doesn't point out solutions, secondly because it addresses the wrong audience. To which I keep pointing out over and over again that it is a mistake to read art primarily as a call to action or to expect it to have solutions on offer.
I just don't know how to make the Celan example stronger than I made it before. You say that you don't want to be preached about child abuse because you have heard it all before, you are not a rapist and don't know any rapists, and you are not in a position to change anything about it. That is your response to L4E. I tried to construct a reductio ad absurdum of this argument by pleading that you certainly wouldn't refuse to listen to the "Todesfuge" by saying, "Why should I listen to this guy whining about the holocaust, I learned it all in school, and why should I feel addressed or moved by his poem, I am no nazi and don't know any nazis, he should read it to those who were responsible". I simply took it for granted that this fictitious example would reveal the complete absurdity of the idea that the value of the "Todesfuge" lies in the information about the holocaust it gives ("I know that already!") or in the political action it recommends. To judge a poem (or a film) by these standards is just grotesquely beside the point. What I hoped to make clear was: If someone seriously reacted to the "Todesfuge" in this way, it would be a dead sure proof that this person had no idea whatsoever what art is about. In particular, this person wouldn't understand the difference between a poem, a newspaper article, and a political manifesto. (I'm pretty certain, by the way, that the sheer idea that his poems were meant to move people to political action would make Celan rotate in his grave. His trust in the positive outcome of human action was so bleak that Lukas Moodysson even in his latest incarnations looks like Steve Martin compared to him.)
Now I'm left absolutely clueless what to say more by the fact that in your response to my example, you adopt just the exact position which I had hoped to reveal as absurd. Either we simply have a huge misunderstanding here that we are somehow unable to resolve, or we do have indeed a disagreement as wide as the ocean. Either way, I give up. Let's talk about something else!
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Postby Kolya » Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:24 am

I didn't react to Celan's poem like that, I said: "If I met someone now, who'd preach to me..." There's a difference between presenting a piece of art and preaching (which is from top down low). LM preaches imo. And by purposely giving this movie a pseudo documentary look he blurs the line between art and realworld-news that you tell me to obey so strictly.

Maybe you're right and we can't get to a conclusion here. I know there is art that can exist for itself, without calling the people to anything, just Lilya 4ever doesn't look like that kind of art to me and more like kind that tries to achieve something and fails at that.
Seems we have a different reading of it.
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OK

Postby Spain_1 » Thu Sep 21, 2006 5:09 pm

What's going on here?........... :wink:

you look like a thirty old marriage....... :lol:


In any case, I think it's a good idea to change the subject.

I just wanted to say that art is just HOW things are told and not WHAT it is told, and of course Kolya you have all the right in the world to think that he missed the HOW.

The WHAT is more discutable, Louis Ferdinand Céline sent us a message like: the world is a bullshit and if you live enough you get buried till your ears.........that doesn't make him a bad artist.
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Postby Kolya » Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:16 am

Kant and me don't know each other for long but I think we've been always of one opinion, which made this such a heated discussion. Image
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Postby kant1781 » Fri Sep 22, 2006 9:22 am

:lol: Yes, probably! (In fact it's our second disagreement :wink: - the first one was in the discussion with Andrey concerning your five-years-later-sequel, about the probable development of Elin's personality, remember?... but even that is nothing compared to the amount of agreement!)
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Postby Kolya » Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:54 am

Oh yeah, wether she would sleep with Johan again or have become a different person. Reminds me of writing some more. God, I have scrapped at least as much as I wrote now. It was easier when I could build on what was there. But they-split-and-came-together-again isn't a story you know. Needs more meat.
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Postby Jari84 » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:20 am

I've seen this movie about 6 months ago on the television and I really liked it!
Hmmmzz... I'm not that good in English to explain what I want to say :(
The movie was a bit shocking! But it's a very strong story, and the views were really beautiful..
The scene where she was under that table... Ahhh it was that beautiful!
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Jari 84

Postby Spain_1 » Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:01 pm

I'm not that good in English to explain what I want to say


I don't know if you are Flemish or French speaking, but if you are interested in giving your opinion and you're able to do it in French, go on, I will try to translate it later on.
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Postby Ikeano » Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:21 pm

Ok, well I saw this film for the first time a couple of weeks ago and thought it was a great piece of cinema. Its a very strong and moving film. Full of hardship....and yet....Im not sure. I need to watch it again a few times....
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Re: Jari 84

Postby sydney » Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:26 pm

Spain_1 wrote:
I'm not that good in English to explain what I want to say

I don't know if you are Flemish or French speaking, but if you are interested in giving your opinion and you're able to do it in French, go on, I will try to translate it later on.

Antwerp!? That should make him/her a Dutch speaker.
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Re: Jari 84

Postby Jari84 » Mon Oct 30, 2006 6:04 pm

I'm not that good in English to explain what I want to say
I don't know if you are Flemish or French speaking, but if you are interested in giving your opinion and you're able to do it in French, go on, I will try to translate it later on.
Antwerp!? That should make him/her a Dutch speaker.

Antwerp & Dutch indeed ;) and "her" :)
When I have to talk in English, it's no problem, but to write down what I want to say... hmmm :?
And the whole quoting-thing didn't want to work with the names in it...
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Postby hcd » Sat Mar 15, 2008 5:28 pm

I've seen this movie on video.google.com today. Well, the story is very good, but I don't like that angel-wings stuff. It makes the film too pathetic. It destroys the sad feeling. And I don't like the music (techno version of Forever Young *brrrrrr*). On the whole the movie doesn't reach the quality of FA. My opinion.
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