Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Barbarians (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
It starts with a succession of portraits of world leaders, the kind of group shot that documents attendance at summits and conferences. Horizontal wipes bring us new images, more world leaders in matching suits, then troops in uniform, police squads, juntas, civic groups, bridal parties, sports teams, organised and group efforts. Wipe wipe wipe, until they stack up like blinds in a hotel meeting room. Then straight cuts over the top of this conveyor belt of collectivism to individual protestors, riots, riot cops, a V For Vendetta mask that's doubtless an allusion to the 'Anonymous' movement spawned by the website that should not be named or visited.
Which is where the problem really comes to a head. If you spend time on the internet (and one wonders how you are reading this if you don't) you'll probably have seen many of these images before. They've gone viral, but this feels more like something you'd be linked to through Facebook than something you'd go to see in the picturehouse. Of course, if stock market valuations and interpretations of events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya are to be believed, that is the way the world is now. Some may find themselves less than convinced.
It ends with a a quote from Brossart: if politics were to come back, it could only be from its savage and disreputable fringe. Then, a muffled rumor shall arise whence that roar is heard: "We are scum! We are barbarian!"
Jean-Gabriel Priot's film has an electronic score by Xavier Thibalt, and it's not bad. In that respect it's much like his earlier film The Delicate Art Of the Bludgeon which is made of archive riot footage, has a version of Public Image Ltd's This Is Not A Love Song over the top, and ends with a quote from Article 12 of the French Constitution of 1789. There also his earlier (and better) work, Nijuman No Borei/20,000 Phantoms, which layers photographs to create a portrait of Hiroshima before the bomb, and after, with a soundtrack provided by Current 93.
He's done other work, but this video collage thing with a post-punk soundtrack is clearly a habit. The Barbarians is entertaining enough, but it lacks something. Perhaps there's something in its crudity, but this isn't rough-hewn "authenticity", more the earnest politicking of a teenager. Endearing enough, but offputting. Since most of his films are available online, you can judge for yourself, but The Barbarians is best left at the starting gate.
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