La Vallée (The Valley) Reviews
Through the days of journeying, there are encounters with remote inhabitants portrayed (in improvised footage) by members of a real New Guinea tribe. Vivian is introduced to experiences of free sex, natural drugs, nature worship, and vague utopian philosophy that seems to involve mainly the shedding of all vestiges of western mores and civilized conduct. The obviously real slaughter of pigs for a collective aboriginal feast is a disturbing scene - it tells us the director was stretching for verisimilitude and gives us an indication that this fable is hardly a fairy tale.
As the group's exotic adventures continue, beautifully photographed by award-winning cinematographer Nestor Almendros, they climb ever higher into the mountains, first surrendering their land rover for horses, and then the horses for an arduous trek on foot. Eventually they are lost in mist on a clouded mountaintop, exhausted and without any remaining food and water. The film ends in a revelation which may be more mystical than real and as the pulsating Pink Floyd music plays us out, one is reminded of the old adage that the journey is sometimes greater than the destination.
I cannot call "La Vallée" classic cinema, but the use of exotic locale, the cinema verité style, and the symbolism of the story make this film a curiosity at least, that now, half a century on, reminds us of a time when turning on and tuning out was considered an act of brave artistic exploration.
[font=Century Gothic]Written and directed by Barbet Schroeder, "La Vallee" is a spellbinding odyssey, both personal and geographical, with a perfectly ambiguous ending. The movie was made at a time when many people were leaving home to explore themselves and the world around them and this is especially true for Viviane who has a foot in both worlds, not totally comfortable with the people she is seeking to exploit. Uptight at the travelers' sleeping arrangements, she is immediately drawn to Olivier and have sex not long after meeting. These are explorers who are interested in parts of the world about which not much is known.(It is a specific arrogance of Europeans that if a white person did not go somewhere, than it does not count as having been explored.) The movie treats the indigenous tribes with great respect but I would have liked to have heard more from the other two female members of the expedition, Monique(Monique Giraudy) and Hermine(Valerie Lagrange).[/font]