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A TALE OF THE WIND

France, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Joris Ivens, Marceline Loridan

From opening shots of a plane soaring through blue skies, to the last shots of a plane appearing to roll down railroad tracks while Chinese commuters wait for it to pass, A History Of Wind is a remarkable testament to the imaginations of 90-year-old veteran Joris Ivens and his co-director Marceline Loridan Honoured with the career achievement award at last year's Venice Film Festival, this film is a venerable salute both to the career of the Dutch documentanst and the physical (and metaphysical) wonders of China. More than a documentary on China, it is film poem dealing with the theme of eternal China, similar in character to Rain, which Ivens filmed 60 years ago

The wind and the sea have always been key elements in Jons Ivens's lyncal documentaries, and here we find him tramping over vast mountains and deserts in search of the Great Winds Of China. The form is a free-flowing collage, taking in great documentary aerial shooting, fantasy (Ivens miraculously appeanng from inside Melies's man on the moon), irony (we see Ivens arguing with Chinese officials for days over filming in a museum), and recollections of a filmmaking career begun in 1911 In the final section, die Wind is captured in a sequence of amazing visual and aural beauty. Co-directed with Marceline Loridan, this film could be the 90-year-old Ivens's last testament — though its astonishing youthful exhuberance belies the fact The colour images are breathtaking throughout, as is Michael Portal's score with its ensemble of clarinets warbling away like the wind itself. - John Gillett, London Film Festival

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