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February 18, 2006

The Lost Domain, 2004

domain.gifRecalling the whimsical, organic transections between past and present, dream and reality, literature and real-life of Raoul Ruiz's earlier films Memory of Appearances and Time Regained, The Lost Domain is a more somber and pensive, yet still vibrant, impassioned, and intelligently constructed exposition on the process of maturation, the demystification of a childhood hero, and the inevitable loss of innocent wonder and fanciful imagination. As the film begins, a unseen narrator recounts a tale from his Chilean hometown of a ghost ship once moored near the shore whose presence only became an unprovable myth - the stuff of legends - after the villagers ceased to speak of its strange presence on the horizon and recount its fantastic tale. This introductory notion of tale-telling as the figurative lifeblood to existence and identity serves as the Pirandellian framework for Ruiz's tale of a boy from a rural town who is befriended by an abstracted French aviator and chronic storyteller, Antoine (François Cluzet) (and whose life curiously mirrors the wandering hero from Alain-Fournier's classic novel, Le Grand Meaulnes) after he makes an emergency landing in their community during a topographic surveying expedition. Weaving through past and present as the boy, Max becomes a kind of de facto tale-teller at various stages in life: first, as a young flight instructor (Grégoire Colin) training Antoine, now an obsolete pilot unable to navigate the controls of a modern airplane during World War II, then as a middle-aged country gentleman who harbors a young couple after breaking curfew to meet with him and find information on his grandfather, Antoine, who was declared missing in action after conducting a night-time reconnaissance operation during the war. At each juncture, the encounter becomes an understated elegy of time passed - a skeptical young man refusing to acknowledge his youthful gullibility, a middle-aged man who regrets his imposed estrangement from his boyhood hero during their last encounter, an old man acutely aware of his mortality and solitude.

Posted by acquarello on Feb 18, 2006 | | Filed under 2006, Film Comment Selects


So did you enjoy it? Do you consider it a major Ruiz film?
I thought the "literal adaptation" was too illustrative, analogic to make reality overtly looking alike. I don't know how to explain my impression. Each characteristic of the characters and the plot seem to be more spelled out/stated than actually developped through suggestive dramaturgy and mise-en-scene.
The word "abstracted" you use is maybe the key of my problem.
I also had a very different feeling upon reading the referenced novel, and probably was disappointed that the film killed its sensuous magic. The film is too intellectual and not romantic enough I guess.

Posted by: HarryTuttle on Feb 18, 2006 11:11 PM | Permalink

I was pretty surprised by the weight of sadness throughout this film, and I didn't think it had enough mischievous twists or tongue-in-cheek camerawork to make it a major Ruiz film. That said, I still liked the film as a story about losing that fancifulness of being young, but it just didn't seem much like a quintessential Ruiz film. I'd agree with you about the "too intellectual and not romantic enough" comment. Ruiz gets the melancholy spot on, but if you never fully capture the romanticism of it, you never get the full weight of what was lost.

Posted by: acquarello on Feb 19, 2006 9:39 AM | Permalink

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