Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Le cousin Jules

Cousin Jules

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A small farm in south-eastern Burgundy: an old forge, a taciturn elderly couple of around 80, a scattering of neighbours, a few animals, fields, and the odd cart or car. While the ingredients of Dominique Benicheti’s only feature-length film may be modest, the effort put into the project by the then 24-year-old director was anything but. He first came up with the idea of making a film on the daily life of a distant relative in 1967, carrying out the preparatory work with a 16 mm and still camera. The script and storyboard emerged from this material, with shooting taking place between 1968 and 1973 in colour, cinemascope and stereo sound, the latter for recording noises, as there is no dialogue. And yet no part of the daily routines documented in Le cousin Jules seems staged; everything is an unconscious habit, a form of ritual in the lives of these two old people. She fires up the oven, puts the water on to boil, grinds coffee beans, peels potatoes, stirs soup. He stokes the forge and hammers the iron into shape with targeted blows to form the anchor plates typical of the region. The sound of the wooden clogs, fire, hammer and bellows coalesce to form a resounding bucolic symphony.

France 1973, 91 min


Dominique Benicheti