Charles Dead or Alive – Charles Mort ou Vif
Directed by Alain Tanner, 1970.
Today, I would like to present you « Charles, Dead or Alive », a 1970 Swiss drama directed by Alain Tanner. Directors from Switzerland are pretty rare in the film industry: Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Goretta or Alain Tanner are the very few I could name.
“Charles, Dead or Alive” depicts the life of Charles Dé, who runs a small family business, a factory of watch parts he inherited from his father and his grandfather. In his fifties, Charles is questioning his life and achievements. But instead of being satisfied with his bourgeois life in Geneva, he only feels sadness and emptiness. One day, without any notice, he disappears. A few days later, while he is having a drink in a café, Charles meets a young couple Adeline and Paul. Thrilled by his quest of change, he decides to accompany them and to follow their bohemian lifestyle. Charles becomes Carlo. Sadly, the daily life catches his hope of freedom…
Simple scenes and short dialogues compose this black and white movie. There is joy, sadness, anger and pain in Charles’ odyssey: A touching approach of the human condition. I like particularly the scenes when Carlo teaches Paul his daily quote. Paul has to learn it by heart. What a great idea! I immediately applied it to my daily routine. Every morning, I write my quote of the day on a small piece of paper and learn it by heart. I keep them in big glass candy box.
Here is the selection from last week:
“Je n’avance qu’en tournant le dos au but, je ne fais qu’en défaisant.” Alberto Giacometti
Roughly translated: “I move forward only by turning my back on the aspiration, I make only by undoing.”
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein
“My trade and my art is living.” Montaigne
“Choisir ! C’est l’éclair de l’intelligence. Vous hésitez ? Tout est dit, vous vous trompez.” Honoré de Balzac
Roughly translated: “Choose! It is the flash of intelligence. Are you hesitating? Everything is said, you are wrong.”
“Worry makes you old before the time.” Ben Sira
“Tout le malheur vient de l’immobilité.” Jacques Brel
Roughly translated: “All grieves come from immobility”
“Nothing is permanent in this world, not even our problems.” Charlie Chaplin