GASPAR NOE-Seul Contre Tous

Argentinian born, French filmmaker Gaspar Noe is the most  notorious punk rock auteur in cinema today. His first two films, “I Stand Alone” and “Irreversible,” are fucked up punch-in-the-face film experiences that combine dark sex with dark violence. And drugs.

Gaspar Noe: "To make a good melodrama you need sperm, blood and tears."


Seul Contre Tous

Noé has described "Seul Contre Tous" as “the tragedy of a jobless butcher (Philippe Nahon) struggling to survive in the bowels of the country”, but it is quite a bit more than that . Noé’s goal in making the film was to create a film so confrontational and so in opposition with contemporary French cinema that it would be universally despised – a film to “dishonor France” . Noé has been asked if his film, in which the butcher expounds on the evils of women, homosexuals, blacks, Arabs, and the French with equal venom, is racist. His reply was in the affirmative: “Yes, it’s an anti-French movie”

Noé’s film is not just in opposition to mainstream French cinema, but to all French cinema, even the festival-oriented cinema of which he is a part. It is Noé’s opinion that the “French film industry is very conservative, like the 19th century salons, a private club where six people decide which movies should and shouldn’t be .

The film has been compared in tone to equally relentlessly downbeat films such as Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1975), Fox and His Friends (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1975), Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel, 1950, Noé’s favourite film), Saló (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975), Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971), and to the scathingly misanthropic novels of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Like Taxi Driver, the film features an unremitting first person narration that takes us inside the head of the protagonist, yet explains little about his motivations. Like Saló, there is a frankness regarding sex and violence that would border on the pornographic if it were not for the fact that both films treat the subjects as inescapable and base a human function as defecation. 
To this extremely negative tone, the film adds a series of often randomly placed ‘shocks’ provided by the combination of the amplified sound of a gunshot on the soundtrack with abrupt camera movements (accelerated by skipframes) that move the framing into close-up. Noé has described the desired effect of these shocks as “like being electrified, like an epileptic seizure” .

While Noé’s goal may have been to make a universally despised film, he was not successful. What did result, however, was a near complete polarisation of the audience. A few critics responded with bewilderment, but most either loved it or hated it. At the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, the major shock regarding the film came not from the film itself but from the fact that it won the Critic’s Week prize despite having gone relatively unseen at the festival .