Level Five (2014)
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The cult favorite 1996 film centers around a video game developer named Laura, played with quiet intensity by Catherine Belkhodja. Working on a game about the Battle of Okinawa, she becomes increasingly drawn into her work an fascinated by the island's history: in the devastating WWII battle that preceded the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 150,000 Japanese were killed, many by suicide. (C) Icarus Films
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Critic Reviews for Level Five
"Level Five" plays like a lost CD-ROM rediscovered in some thrift-store bargain bin.
A poetic if occasionally opaque film essay on the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.
The theories in "Level Five" simultaneously thrive in realms of computer science, ethnography, and cognitive psychology, while the picture remains cloaked by the emotional weight of a historical tragedy that marked an entire nation.
Already a cult film nearly 20 years old, Level Five makes its U.S. theatrical debut, and the wait has turned the viewing experience into something even more meditative than director Chris Marker might have intended.
Like every other film Marker made, it's an exemplary and resonant address on the life of the mind and the life outside of that one.
"Level Five," a passionate and cerebral science-fiction adventure ... belongs equally to the past, the present and the future.
...[Level Five] effortlessly anticipated the aesthetic and thematic shifts of 21st-century cinema, even as it addressed the history and legacy of the 20th.
A richly digressive, provocative meditation on the cross-currents of technology, engagement with history and wounded national identity ...
Tension is explored between the medium and the message - namely, how history becomes selectively fashioned for the medium through which it is depicted rather than the other way around.
This film demands every cell of your cerebellum, but its compelling surreality is hard to shake off.
By using Laura as an avatar, Marker actually helps us see the visuals and their knotty meanings much more clearly.
Level Five pictorializes the cruel moment when curiosity encounters tragedy, and the all-too-human abandonment of interest that can follow.
The most extraordinarily contemporary thing about Marker's intricate matrix (in a William Gibson rather than a Wachowskis sense of the concept) is how beautifully it lines up with and enlarges the contexts of recent films.
Audience Reviews for Level Five
With his hybrid film "Level Five," Chris Marker rambles on more than usual, especially the segments involving Laura(Catherine Belkhodja).(If anyone can tell me what the toy parrot is supposed to symbolize, I would appreciate it.) But once he finds his focus, he really gets on a roll, even anticipating the rise of the internet and Clint Eastwood's masterful diptych "Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima," while warning about the temptation to rewrite history.
The particular bit of history that Marker is obsessed with here is the Battle of Okinawa, the last battle of World War II and one of the most fatal ever, especially as applied to civilian populations. As he points out, the Japanese military authorities sacrificed this distant province in the hope that it would deter the Americans from invading. Instead, Marker claims it led directly to the dropping of the first atomic bombs. I disagree. I think the Americans would have dropped them anyway on Japan as they felt they had to show off their shiny new toys to the Soviet Union.
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