But “The New French Extremity” movement in that nation's cinema has, perhaps, altered this perception to some degree. Grotesque, visceral films such as High Tension (2003), Them (2006), Martyrs (2008) and Irreversible (2002) are all decorum-shattering, convention-busting, transgressive works-of-art and legitimate heirs to the Savage American Cinema of the 1970s.
In a way, then, Irreversible represents a God’s eye view of human life here on Earth. Each and every act is a moral universe unto itself. We are judged not by "why" we do something, but the fact that we do it at all.
If you gaze deeply into Irreversible’s unique chemistry, the point instead seems to be that it is actually our (linear) perception of time that destroys everything, and that if we attempt to countenance reality in another, non-chronological fashion, all moments will exist simultaneously. Thus there should be no fear or dread about life and death, creation and destruction. All such things exist side-by-side, instant to instant, if only we register them. And if we can boast this awareness outside the moment-to-moment continuity of our lives -- if we can simultaneously see our endings and our beginnings -- wouldn't we also choose, consciously, to be better to one another?
“Blood calls for revenge. Vengeance is a human right.”
The triumvirate also discuss sex, and in particular, Pierre’s inability to help Alex achieve climax during lovemaking. She doesn’t experience this problem with the more macho, less sensitive Marcus, and Alex suggests that it is because Pierre is too much the cerebral intellectual. He’s worried about making her climax, when he should just be thinking instead about seeking his own pleasure. He can’t do, she says, only think.
Acting, not thinking, Pierre defends Marcus, but bludgeons the wrong man to death with a fire extinguisher. Pierre and Marcus are arrested, and , finally, we listen in on a conversation between two strangers in an apartment above the club. They declare that time destroys all.
Published in 1927 originally, this book deals with the concept of non-linear time. Specifically, Dunne believed that all moments are occurring simultaneously, side-by-side. Alas, humans are not capable of seeing or detecting non-linear time, and therefore only experience flashes of insight -- deja-vu or precognition -- and only through the auspices of dream analysis. To describe this idea another way, the world of dreams allows us to detect, outside of waking consciousness, the future and the past, or the beginning and the end of everything. It's all there, for us to see, but most of the time, we simply can't see it.
|Your first key to Irreversible.|
And secondly, the camera seems untethered from gravity itself, especially as the film opens and “revenge” is meted. The camera literally sways and swoops, turns and rolls, never able to steady or anchor itself in a single place or angle. For the first several moments, this technique is extremely upsetting, disorienting and perhaps, for some viewers, even deal-breaking. But if you stick with the film (as I recommend you should), you begin to get the feeling that the untethered camera is expressing this idea of spinning through space, without the natural laws we take for granted. In other words, gravity fails us, visually-speaking, because our concepts of time, are, similarly, failures in terms of understanding the movie. The world's nature is not as we perceive it.
In other words, there can be no spontaneity (or rage, impulse, or madness, vis-à-vis Pierre and his brutal behavior...), if the shape and dimension of time is already diagrammed. The 7th Symphony supports our (wrong-headed) idea that time is linear, and that we are spontaneous characters, susceptible to the whims of cause and effect.
Or is the strobe sequence/montage revealing something else entirely. Is the reverse momentum of the film actually taking us backwards all the way to the Big Bang and the moment of creation -- and therefore time -- itself? It’s a fascinating idea to ponder. When the Big Bang occurred, were all possibilities, all presents and futures, written in that very instant? Right down to Alex's rape and Pierre's act of murder?
|Your second key to understanding Irreversible.|