In Chantal Anne Akerman’s early short film, La Chambre (1972), we see the furniture and clutter of one small room in an apartment become the subject of a moving still life—with Akerman herself staring back at us. This breakthrough formal experiment is the first film the director made in New York.
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There is almost nothing in this 11-minute film by Chantal Akerman, except her eating an apple, and a tour of her tiny-but-charming NYC apartment with exposed brick and antique furniture. Maybe this is strictly for Chantal Akerman fans, I guess I am one; I really liked it. An extra star for having no stupid music like most American films. In fact, this is a silent film. Which I love. Film is, after all, a visual art.
A conversation between camera & gaze. It's a relief, to have a gaze imposed upon us. Mechanical & fair. Finally, a leveller. We can relax. It's languid, sensual, indifferent.. Are we annoyed then when the camera starts behaving like a human? Does it expose us? The mechanisms that motivate us? Raw & unsophisticated things. Ingrained tropes & derived meanings. Especially of women. (E.g. Akerman does Eve) Also punk a.f.
Interesting little experiment in utilising space and daring the audience to reconceptualise that space in relation to a body occupying it. Interesting that the space would tell us little about its occupant if we did not see her in it. Is it the body on the bed that personalises the room, or our gaze?
Everything Haneke has ever tried to do Ackerman accomplishes here in 11 minutes. Her form is as rigorous as it is poetic and even playful in the way the rhythms of the camera pans anticipate the reemergence of the director with every 360 degrees. The terror and angst in viewership that finally emerges, however, comes with the realization of a violent gaze that we at once eagerly indulge and are powerless to overcome.
Though fully focused on the objects being revealed by the panning camera, following the first sight of Akerman her image lingers, so that each of her consecutive appearances is more climactic than the last - reminiscent of "Jeanne Dielman"'s prostitution scenes. When the camera breaks from its routine and pans left - towards Akerman - it's as if we the viewer are turning our heads - and can't help but stare.
i came in contact with akerman, during a trip to lisbon, I went into a very dark room with multiple televisions placed on the floor and sat. First i didn't know what that was, the meaning of what i was seeing. Then everybody in the room started to leave and in a mather of seconds it was just me and those 6 televisions. it was amazing because all the 6 tv's were displaying the film in different ways. and then.. superb