Monday, January 03, 2011

Honourable Mention: Conte Noir

This is a short film by Guillaume Tauveron and translates to Black Tale. I am unsure of the date, Tauveron directed at least 5 films which were named as tales based on a colour. Four are on his imdb page, this one is not. The other four were made over 2006 and 2007. I found the full footage of Conte Noir on YouTube, posted in 2007, and so I am going for a tentative date of 2007.

It concerns a woman, Chloe, and at first we see her lying alone in a double bed and then looking at a picture of a man. It is Christmas, a tree blinks its lights. She sits by the man from the picture, her husband, and he asks if she had a good sleep. She dreamt that he had died, she says, and tells him that she cannot live without him. Dreams are sometimes said to show the opposite of their true meaning. As we see Chloe outside, she begins to cough up blood – it is she who is dying and her husband is unaware.

nervous glance
Night falls and a man with long hair and an old fashioned dress sense stands before a cathedral. About the same time the husband comes home but Chloe is not there, she is walking through the streets. We see a girl walking a deserted street, she sees the long haired man up ahead and detours down an alley. The film builds a sense of her tension, not only in the movement of her head as she glances nervously back, as though followed, but in the music used. I have to mention the music now, absolutely perfectly selected all the way through this film is a crash course in soundtrack building that other filmmakers may well want to look to.

The girl sees the long haired man up ahead again, she spins around and he is behind her. His eyes catch hers and hypnotise her before he bites her neck. As he lets her drop he sees Chloe further down the alley, watching. He moves to her but she strokes his face, kisses him and offers her neck. He vanishes. She is sat up at home when the French windows open. The vampire is out on the street, she goes to him and puts her head on his shoulder, he gives her a necklace.

Guillaume Tauveron as the Hunter
The next morning she is coughing up blood in the bathroom when the husband is going to work. He suggests going out that night and she murmers her agreement. We see him working in a kitchen, her trying to paint but becoming frustrated. In the evening he sees a man wearing shades (Guillaume Tauveron) looking at their building – he tells the husband to watch his wife and then walks away. Chloe and her husband go out and ride a Ferris Wheel. They, wearing white and being carried into the heavens, are juxtaposed against the vampire below the Wheel, dressed in black.

The Vampire
She meets the vampire in the street and tells him that she will have to say goodbye. She returns home and the husband demands to know what she is hiding. She coughs up blood. She runs and, after getting his boots on, he chases. He is far enough behind to see her run into the vampire’s arms and offer her throat but unable to prevent it. As she collapses, he sees a figure to the side. He glances that way and, in that split second, Chloe and the vampire have vanished. Another split second and they are replaced with a female vampire who hypnotises him. She is about to bite when the shade wearing man puts a blanket over her head, pulls her down and kicks her into unconsciousness. He carries the husband home and again Tauveron juxtaposes the scene as we see the vampire carrying Chloe.

The husband and a stake
And that is as far as I want to go, we have met our principle players – the vampire, Chloe, her husband and the vampire hunter. I do want to mention two parts of the film that occur later, however. One follows the hunter suggesting to the husband that eventually he will forget. We then see the hunter alone, he removes his shades and remembers how he started, about the death (at the hands of the vampire) of his lover and it is clear that he cannot forget. He hides his pain behind dark glasses.

after effects of sun exposure
The other scene shows the death of the vampire woman, tied and under a blanket the hunter pulls it away and she burns in the sun. I mention it for two reasons. Rather than employ effects that probably would not have worked that well, Tauveron cuts away and offers reaction shots from those nearby as the soundtrack is overwhelmed with her screams. He then returns the camera to her empty dress and ashes. I liked the simplicity of this and it worked well because of the use of sound and the reactions of the other actors. I also mention it because it gives us a piece of lore – these vampires burn in the sun but the sunlight has to be direct.

Beyond that there is the suggestion that stakes through the heart work, vampires have eye mojo with which to hypnotise their victims and the blood of the vampire ingested by the victim is needed for turning.

A wonderful piece, the black and white along with the Christmas backdrop gave a slight overtone of Nadja, which is no bad thing. I loved the way that, through the director’s skill and the cast’s craft, we were able to be given a story with a minimal amount of dialogue and, even more, I adored the use of sound and the juxtapositions offered in the film. Guillaume Tauveron’s homepage is here.

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