Filmmaker: Patrick Müller

L’homme et la mer (Man and the Sea) by Charles Baudelaire

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

German film-maker Patrick Müller here adapts to the screen Charles Baudelaire‘s poem, “L’homme et la mer (Man and the Sea)”, from the poet’s most famous collection, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), first published in 1857. This is his second adaptation of a Baudelaire poem, after Le Chat (2013).

The piece displays a distinctive approach by the film-maker, who shot it on the tiny and mostly obsolete super 8 celluloid format, popularised as a home movie medium from the time of its release by Eastman Kodak in 1965. Müller’s artisanal work includes hand-processing the film himself, then transferring it to the high-quality 4K video format for completion. This combination of analogue and digital creates uniquely beautiful images, with the sensuality of the film grain rendered in uncharacteristic clarity, and the choices in colour grading adding further to the poetry of the visual stream.

The softness and quiet passion of Müller’s voice entices us inwards to the text and the film. As with Caroline Rumley’s, Open Season, shared on Moving Poems yesterday, the soundtrack of L’homme et la mer is punctuated by sudden breaks to silence, as if to give moments of contemplation before beginning anew with the next fragment of the film.

The French-English translation of the poem in the subtitles is by Lewis Piaget Shanks (1878-1935).

Müller’s detailed process notes on the film may be read at filmkorn.org.

Säv, säv, susa / Sigh, Rushes, Sigh by Gustaf Fröding

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A haunting Swedish poem brought to life by the German director Patrick Müller. Here’s the English portion of his Vimeo description:

SIGH, RUSHES, SIGH: In his tale of passionate love and heartbreaking grief, Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding (1860–1911) explains the drowning of the beautiful Ingalill. The words find its counterpart in black and white images, shot with an old 16mm film camera.

Film by Patrick Müller. Germany, 2018, 3 Min, 16mm.
Poem: Gustaf Fröding, Narrator: Klaus-Rüdiger Utschick, Camera: Krasnogorsk 3, Film stock: Fomapan R100, Processing: Andec Filmtechnik, Telecine 4K: Ochoypico, Madrid. Filmed at Rügen, 2018.

There was a lively discussion on the Poetry Film Live Facebook group the other day about whether and when it’s appropriate to use illustration in a poetry film. I think this film strikes the perfect balance between illustration (it wouldn’t have made sense not to begin and end with rushes on a lake shore) and suggestion (the girl’s drowning is only briefly hinted at in the visuals). The film with its black-and-white, 16mm graininess not only conveys but intensifies the melancholy mood of the text. Such illustration as it includes doesn’t tame or trivialize the poem but contributes to an over-all ostranenie.

Le Chat / The Cat by Charles Baudelaire

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A trilingual filmpoem (subtitles in English and German; voiceover in French) by German filmmaker Patrick Müller.

Melancholia by Jacob Balde

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A videopoem with a decidedly neo-classical feel by German filmmaker Patrick Müller, who sets it up in the Vimeo description as follows:

MELANCHOLIA (Melancholie/Melancholy) A short silent film by Patrick Müller after the poem by German Latinist Jacob Balde (1604–1668). This film was entirely shot in Ingolstadt, Germany, where Balde was a professor of rhetoric from 1635. He was widely known as the “German Horaz”.

(Horaz = Horace.) The attention and care Müller brought to the project even extended to the credits, where he had the filming details translated into Latin — a nice touch. For more on Balde, see the Catholic Encyclopedia.

L’éternité / Eternity by Arthur Rimbaud

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A silent filmpoem with trilingual titling by the German filmmaker Patrick Müller. The film was shot in Dinard, Brittany, according to the credits. The description at Vimeo says: “Salutary breaks and changes are the topic of Arthur Rimbaud’s (1854–1891) autobiographical nature poem which is confronted with equally emotionally charged images.” A page at lomography.de goes into a bit more technical detail: “Shot on a Lomokino camera on 35mm film stock and scanned frame by frame with a Nikon Coolscan scanner. Edited with Final Cut Pro X.”

Surprisingly, this is the very first Rimbaud piece at Moving Poems.