By Lucile Mercier
In The Name Of / W imię (Polish competition) directed by Małgośka Szumowska and cinematography by Michał Englert, enlightened the screen in the Camerimage festival, the wonderful place where by definition light “is”… But what to think of when leaving the theatre, be it here or anywhere else?
If the thought comes, “Well, the cinematography was great,” then according to Sean Bobbit “that’s just a failure” for the director and for the cinematographer. A film needs a picture to impress the eye and the memory but never in sacrifice of the story.
Considering the film’s subject we could be afraid of a polemic aspect. In a nutshell: a priest discovers his homosexuality. But what the film shows is essentially how a love relationship develops, between two men, filmed in a delicate manner.
The film takes the time to let us install ourselves and watch the scenes; the eye can travel within the shots. Our vision is close to their bodies in action : antistatic cinema with composition.
The aim of the film is neither a critical view on religion, nor a claim for homosexuality. It’s above all a very contemporary reading of what our society is today. With contradictions and without Manicheism, In The Name Of is soft and simply suggestive, characters are shinning and as a viewer we don’t expect any sexual performance. Indeed the film is closer to A Love That Will Never Grow Old directed by Ang Lee than The blue is the warmest color directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.
It is the kind of film that makes you feel different after the screening: one exits the screening room with a lasting impression. Hours after, even days after, there is a quiet and soft sensation of having seen something profound: this is a true sign of recognition.
While listening to Sean Bobbit, Slawomir Idziak or Christopher Doyle, they seemed to share an idea: for the cinematography of a film to be right, it needs to come from the words, from the script. Independent of their styles and methods, those major cinematographers share a common appreciation of simplicity. Bruno Delbonel has a motto, a main word: simplicity”(1). Beauty comes from simplicity, beauty to serve a story, a project, looking for purity. Tom Stern says that ” A single source is more elegant.”
Those admired cinematographers collaborated with directors on a shared, real visual approach, working within the cinema medium. Sean Bobbit with Steve McQueen, Slawomir Idziak with Krzysztof Kieślowski, Christopher Doyle with Wong Kar Wai.
How can cinema be new again today? Maybe with really new directors. That is what I was wondering in Bydgoszcz seeing a lot of movies, wishing for something to be significant. I remember what Slawomir Idziak saying, “Cinema deals with a particular dreamlike perception”(2). That is why, at the end, I will remember In The Name Of from Camerimage 2013: because it manages in a just way to be a very difficult balance between esthetic and storytelling—which is what I think makes good films.
(1) Camerimage Festival, Bruno Delbonel – Public Meeting with Kodak “About the look”
(2) Camerimage Festival, Slawomir Idziak – Public Meeting
Photography credit : Etienne Bacci – Color grading : Lucile Mercier
Lucile Mercier, in the last year in the Cinematography Department at La Fémis (Paris, France), wishes to thank Jacques Delacoux/Transvideo and Marc Galerne/K5600 for their invitation to Festival Camerimage 2013, and Jon Fauer to the opportunity to write this article.