This experimental film, made by a young Lebanese 'auteur' (Badran Roy Badran)is certainly difficult to access the Lebanese public, it was also sold abroad during the last Cannes Film Festival. What about the film? The foreign distributor who bought the film has reported to the producer of the film (Celine Abiad): "Finally an experimental Lebanese film!" Sehnsucht in the film is a star that exploded and the explosion was seen by the Lebanese astronomer Bernard Zeidan, who became obsessed with this event, and he will try later to prove it in vain! Locked in a psychiatric hospital, Bernard receives a visit from a hypnotist who will take us inside the mind of the scientist to attend a play entitled Sehnsucht! This 'mise en abyme' in the film opens on the inner conflict of four characters in the psyche of Bernard Zeidan: the child clown, the introvert, the intellectual and the philosopher! All in a morbid set, with a stressful music, and a wonderfully successful image control with the most professional sound! The internal debate between the four characters, who are fighting the personality of the astronomer, is difficult to follow, even more difficult to grasp. Symbols abound and psychoanalytic dialogues reveal less than the frame or image. The ending of the film is as excellent as the story of the film, because it is only by the ending of the film that a four-level reading is possible.
1 - The first level of reading is that Sehnsucht is the forever lost childhood, killed by the introvert, the symbol of social pressures that obliges each one of us to face the disease of our civilization. A Civilization which claims that the innocence equates to ignorance, and destroys all illusions and values of demystification and nihilism before committing "suicide itself"! in the film it is the character of the intellectual who commits suicide , after failing to find meaning in his life.
2 - Sehnsucht is Beirut, the city of lights and all the promises of the years before the Lebanese Civil War, which exploded in 1975, the beginning of the war in Lebanon. Beirut, never missing, always late ... longing for a return...which is impossible!
3 - But Sehnsucht is primarily by the etymology of the word, desiderare: to watch a star disappear and regret its absence; desire! Desire for eternity, longing for the Absolute, which animates the human being for he is only being aware of its lack, its finitude! Desire for a woman, symbol of love, the Other who gives us the fullness of our missing being!
4 - Finally, Sehnsucht is also the reason that has disappeared from our crazy and unreasonable society! In the film, it's the intellectual and the child clown who die...one is murdered, the other commits suicide...while the philosopher remains present but not to triumph but to reveal the reason that is no longer tempered by the sensitivity and sociability, but rather delirious, derailed... One reason that does not disappear but goes into madness, delusions, intolerance, fanaticism and madness of political-economical discourse which is becoming unreasonable.
What about the film, tough in its meaning, heavy in its symbolism? Intelligent, brilliant, relevant! A film for moviegoers, a poetic film, poetic just like music, the darkest music music ever, the most oppressive, a darkness that gives the impression of suffocation from the first few minutes of the films to stay with you so long after you leave! The film leaves you no choice but to be puzzled in admiration. The film is not pleasant at all, and its creators intended it to be this way: "strictly forbidden to ordinary spectators!" But it is certainly a technical masterpiece, a great work of cinematic art in the truest sense of the word, a film that we will not forget easily! Bravo!
Joumana El Hayek (senior philosopher)
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