Seahorse Productions: ‘Bad Faith’, Berlin, GERMANY 2005

6th May 2020

Filmed in Berlin, yet our story starts in Paris …

Existentialism, rebirth, personas and inner truth

Magda Champs Elysées *** - The Paris bouquinistes: discover the ...

Walking along the iconic bookstalls of Paris, by the historic Seine, I found a copy of this book:

Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology ...

The philosophy by Jean-Paul Sartre was the inspiration behind my 2005 film, ‘Bad Faith’.

Jean-Paul Sartre (Author of Nausea)

To encapsulate a weighty, heavy-going and often impenetrable book (at least to me) in a succinct sentence or two, Sartre discusses the concept of bad faith (mauvaise foi) whereby people adopt a false persona or identity, become affected, fake, inauthentic and, as a consequence, loose their freedom.

Freedom was a major issue in the writings of Sartre, so please use the internet to discover more if this interests you.

The story of ‘Bad Faith’ takes place over one single day, in Berlin. An English man, Alan Francis (Russell Shaw) has arrived early in the morning, planning to pay a surprise visit to an old friend, an actress named Julie Retore (Natasha Kepsi). They haven’t met for a long time, but Alan has an offer for her … he is about to make a film and wants Julie to play the female lead.

They meet and discuss old times, and how their lives have changed. However, when Alan offers her the film, Natasha senses their may be more to his offer than would appear on the surface.

The film can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4ogP5mfuUw

LIGHTS

CAMERAS

ACTION

The film contains a number of French references, the work of author Marcel Proust, the films of Jean-Luc Godard and the soundtrack features Francis Poulenc. Julie is seen drinking in a French-style cafe, while we hear actress Julie Delpy singing (in French) in the background. Julie also speaks a few words of French to a young student who has forgotten his book (the French poet Rimbaud). The area where the two protagonists meets features a large French church, and Julie’s surname comes from a character in the French-language film ‘Messidor’ (1979).

The issue of Bad Faith is exemplified by the contradictory characters. Alan appears confident, indeed, over-confident, optimist, yet admits to being terrified (in a moment of relatable honesty). Julie, by contrast, appears natural and content as she deals with the minor annoyances of her daily life. Her modest demeanor serves to highlight the affected manner of Alan’s ‘performance’. As Julie points out, it’s “Not enough for you to be a director, you have to look like one, too,” to which Alan admits is “Just an image.” We, like Julie, question this … is it a just image ?

What is apparent is that Alan and Julie had some kind of relationship in the past, when they worked together in tiny theatres, performing for tiny audiences. I deliberately left the extent of the relationship open … I want the audience to decide (just friends, boyfriend & girlfriend, one-night stand, one in love, the other wanting a platonic relationship, etc).

During the script readings, I allowed the actors to invent their own back story and NOT to tell me … so even I don’t know their history.

As the day comes to an end, Alan has to be honest about what he wants, and the scene becomes somewhat embarrassing to watch. We see that Julie is open and honest, she doesn’t want to pretend or hide behind personas anymore. Tellingly, Alan doesn’t seem to understand … or want to understand.

A final ‘clue’ is when Julie returns to her work (and eagle-eyes viewers may spot a tiny photo of Julie Delpy at the front of the desk). We see a copy of Alan’s script upon which Julie places a copy of Proust, a book whose title has been approximately translated as ‘Remembrance of Things Past’.

So which one is really free ? We hear that Alan has to work under producers and acquiesce to their decisions. Julie is alone, but she seems to have choice over what work she does or doesn’t do. Is she happy ? Does she regret her choice ? Will Alan’s film be a success ? All of these are left unanswered. The crux of the film is the interaction of the two leads. If Alan had been less over-bearing and demonstrated humility, would the outcome have been different ? I will let you decide.

CREDITS

Natascha Kepsi

Russell Shaw

David Graber

Steffi Muller

Bjorn Langhans // Christine Muller and Philipp Pressmann

Harri Ansorge, Russell Shaw & Paul Pacifico

Cameras and Edit: Harri Ansorge

Foley Artist: Max Bauer

A film by Paul Pacifico

Seahorse Productions & IRRAH

BERLIN 2005

Buying lunch at a Kina Imbiss (small Chinese restaurant) Alexamderplatz Station, Berlin.
Photo by Russell Shaw

Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking …

28th APRIL 2020

This is a review blog, a chance to take stock of recently acquired language, and to practise using it. First, a shout out to some of my students … I have a young lady who looks remarkably like the magnificent French actress, and a personal favourite, Ms Julie Delpy:

Julie Delpy - From Baby to 47 Year Old - YouTube

My lovely student is very interested in learning British culture, notably the art of drinking tea:

101 — How to drink your tea? - Millennial thoughts on business ...

As opposed to the rather uncouth, uncultivated drinking habits of Vietnamese men:

Ugly Delicious' Season 2 Review: David Chang Grows Up and Gets ...

Is this true of ALL Vietnamese men … of course not, hell no !

I also have another lovely young lady, but sometimes she can look a little scary, like the ghost from the Japanese film, ‘The Ring’:

The Murdered Japanese Girl That Inspired "The Ring," One Of The ...

This is a very strange film so all Japanese films are weird. Is that a fair statement ? No way, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Ahhhh, so unfair, my student is so lovely, in fact, ALL Vietnamese women are sweet, gentle, caring and so demure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS41_-Xjclk

OK, so maybe not ALL Vietnamese women are little princesses !

Our last lesson was based on stereotypes – and a link to a previous blog can be found here:https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2019/08/16/adult-class-level-3-class-1-stereotypes/

From the book, we came across:

Generally speaking // in general // tend to // usually

Adverbs of probability:

definitely // probably // possibly // unlikely // definitely not !

Adverbs of time:

always // frequently // usually // sometimes // occasionally // rarely // never

From the blog, we studied agreeing:

To what extent do you agree ?

I agree / I agree 100% / I agree to an extent / There may be some truth there /

I disagree / I totally disagree / That is very unfair / That is offensive /

That’s just a stereotype / I know for a fact that isn’t true !

Now combine to form some stunning, well-constructed responses.

Example: Apple computers never break

Generally speaking, I would tend to agree as I have had a Mac Book for several years without any serious problems, whereas with my Windows laptop, I frequently have issues such as waiting for updates or very slow downloads.

Exercise – How do you react to these contentions:

Men should earn more money than women for the same job.

Everything from Korea is top quality.

All tourists from USA are obese and unhealthy.

All British people are exceptionally polite, helpful and utterly charming.

You will ONLY get a good job IF you speak English.

All Vietnamese students are lazy, disrespectful and only want to sleep.

JokyLand.com | SLEEPING STUDENTS
A typical Vietnamese student … to what extent do you agree ?

And finally, Thay Paul is always friendly, kind and helpful with Vietnamese students.