Le Grand Bal
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…optimistic filmmaking fuelled by a contagious spiritual energy.
Midway through Le Grand Bal, a French documentary from writer-director Laetitia Carton that covers an intensive eight-day long multi-cultural dance festival held in regional France, two attendees discuss their frustration over the female dancers’ ability to follow tempo; the male voicing concern that his partner’s intense concentration makes her unable to be present within the moment; the other, informing that if her concentration were to stray that it would be of detriment to the collective.
Being very European in attitude, this exploration of ‘being’ whilst living in a totalitarian society is central to the premise of the Le Grand Bal, with the film’s subjects (all undoubtedly of privilege) having the point of view that life ought to be a shared experience of love, passion and joy.
Le Grand Bal sensitively examines the attendees search for connection and is done so in a way that speaks to their spiritual desire for unity and not as a means for the film to pass judgement.
Despite covering a wide scope of themes, including notions of anti-consumerism, the crippling fear of rejection that plagues the human condition, and the prevalent hand of sexism seeping through in a purpose-built utopia, Le Grand Bal never feels overstuffed, with the film comprising largely of dance routines that delightfully show the jubilance in the eyes of the participants.
Narration connects the scenes together though not to discredit the audience’s intelligence but to internalise the feelings experienced by the dancers that are difficult to comprehend at a surface level.
From the all-encompassing joy of a Greek Zorba to the intimacy of a waltzing embrace, Le Grand Bal is optimistic filmmaking fuelled by a contagious spiritual energy.