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’The Science of Sleep’ and Other Films on DVD

Translated Friday 13 April 2007, by Helen Robertshaw

The Science of Sleep (2006), by Michel Gondry
(2DVD, Gaumont, 19.99 Euros).

Born into the world of music (his father sold electric guitars), Michel Gondry made his name in the music industry in the mid 1990s. Not with his pop group the ‘Oui Oui’, created with the main purpose, he confesses, of “attracting the girls”, but instead by producing the images to accompany many of the Icelandic pearl Björk’s songs. In these music video clips, Gondry was already exploring that highly personal world, where poetry, childhood, magic and dreams mingle. Dreams continue to inspire his feature-length films, such as the melancholic Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004), and, of course, his latest film, the aptly named The Science of Sleep. Dreams however are not really the main subject of the film, but instead function as an ideal vehicle for expression, for the director Michel Gondry and for his alter ego and hero Stéphane Miroux (Gael Garcia Bernal), allowing both their minds to wander, enabling them to be inventive, to escape, in short to reshape as they choose the reality around them, a reality which is flawed and often cruel. So what’s the plot of The Science of Sleep? Returning to Paris and the apartment where he spent his childhood, Stéphane Miroux falls in love with his neighbour (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who shares his dreamlike vision of the world. But his love is not entirely reciprocated, and his dreams soon become a convenient place of refuge, a cosy barrier protecting him from life’s disappointments. The film is infused with poetry and lyricism, but it is also remarkably funny, particularly during the scenes in the office, where the protagonist comes into contact with an hilarious trio of co-workers (Alain Chabat, Aurélia Petit and Sacha Bourdo). Of particular interest amongst the bonuses that come with the DVD is a version “B” of the film, a montage made up of scenes which were cut and alternative takes.

Also not to be missed...

The Road to Glory (1936), by Howard Hawks
(DVD, Opening, 16.99 euros). An adaptation of Les Croix de bois, by Raymond Bernard, a pacifist masterpiece about the horrors of the First World War.

Paris vu par... (1965), by Jean Douchet, Jean Rouch, Jean-Daniel Pollet, Éric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol
(DVD, Opening, 19.99 euros). The New Wave of French cinema captures the capital and its different neighbourhoods. A unique film which has been emulated by other directors twenty, then forty years later.

Alexandre Fache

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