Yearning for Space

A few days ago, I finally watched Mars et Avril, the low-budget Canadian sf film that I’d heard a lot about and whose trailer I’d fallen quite hard for back when it had come out:

I loved it, beginning to end – from the rather eccentric philosophy about life and the soul, to the wonky conception of science at its heart, to its soft, mythic approach to the idea of science fiction (a future constantly looking at the past), to the clunky exposition of its themes, echoing the beautiful-yet-gloriously-unsubtle bandes dessinées that inspired it.

One of the things I found most interesting is how, rather than being a love story, it’s a story about the erotic (I’d call it erotica, but I don’t know if that’s how it would feel to most people – it feels more interested in looking at eroticism than in being erotic – quite apart from the fact that it contains barely any nudity).

The biggest component of the eroticism being an old white man’s idea of women is a bit disappointing, but more interesting is how the erotic is connected to infinity, to the void of space and to the loneliness of planets (and to music, but that’s comparatively unimaginative).

I like the idea of taking this kind of melancholy, slightly sinister sf flecked with nostalgia and using it as a background for something erotic and physical – maybe something even ponderous, but still sincere in its treatment of its own ideas. Navel-gazing slice-of-life in a setting that neither looks forwards nor entirely backwards, but somewhere more chaotically internal.

But on eroticism associated with space and planets, this video for ‘Nijikan Dake no Vacance’ (A Two-Hour Vacation) by Utada Hikaru and Shiina Ringo, that I watched yesterday, felt like a good companion piece:

Like Mars et Avril, it features a future that’s constantly looking at the past (I especially love the flying car with a 1960s design). Its eroticism is less cerebral, but simultaneously more sensual and more innocent. The melancholy is sprinkled with joy.

There is a tone that both of these are reaching towards that I’m finding myself extremely interested in. Perhaps more on this later.

Finally, Mars et Avril itself feels rather Gilliamesque to me, and it seems that applied to its making as well, as writer/director Martin Villeneuve explains here: