“I felt very relieved when I was sixteen to discover cinema. To discover there was a land, a place, I call it an island, from where you could see life, and death. From another perspective, another angle, from many different angles. I think every young person should be interested in that island. It’s a beautiful place.”–Leos Carax
DIRECTED BY: Veit Helmer
FEATURING: Denis Lavant, Chulpan Khamatova, Terrence Gillespie, Philippe Clay, Catalina Murgea
PLOT: Anton is a lowly, mistreated assistant at a bathhouse run by his blind father; he falls in love with Eva, the daughter of a sea captain. His real estate developer brother wants to tear down the bathhouse, and also seeks the hand of Eva. After a piece of rubble falls from the ceiling and kills Eva’s father while he’s swimming in the pool, an inspector gives the family a few weeks to bring it up to code or face demolition.
- Tuvalu was Veit Helmer’s debut feature after making six shorts.
- The movie was a true international production: director Helmer is German, male lead Denis Lavant is French, female lead Chulpan Khamatova is Russian, and (based on his accent) primary antagonist Terrence Gillespie (in his only known performance) is American. The movie was filmed in Bulgaria.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: While there are some great candidates, from the cavernous Turkish bath itself to Eva’s nude swim with her pet goldfish, we’ll go with the two dream sequences. While the rest of the movie is shot monochromatically, the characters dream in tropical color: specifically, in a negative-image palette saturated in pinks and pale pastel blues, with gold trim.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Blind lifeguard; skinny-dip with goldfish; hat crosswalk
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Stylized to the T’s and set in a bleak Expressionist world where crumbling Romanesque baths sit in fields of rubble, Tuvalu shows all the right cinematic influences along with the instinctual oddness necessary to be canonized in the halls of weirdness.
Brief clip from Tuvalu
COMMENTS: Tuvalu borrows its style from the weird world of silent Continue reading 333. TUVALU (1999)