a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

La vie moderne

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Over the last 10 years, famed photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Raymond Depardon has been documenting through film and still photography the lives of peasants in his native France. La vie moderne follows visits over several years to a few farmers eking out meager livings in the high country of central France. The film is largely comprised of long static interview sessions in which taciturn farmers say barely a word. Depardon as the off camera narrator and interviewer is not a natural in the art of interview. He asks leading questions. He fills in the answers. By most means, the film shouldn’t work, yet La vie moderne is oddly affecting as he layers interviews, scenes of driving down long back roads and farmers going through their quotidian routines.  The enforced slow pace and beautifully composed shots gives the viewer ample time to get lost in weathered faces, the simple and profound human dramas of the participants and details of a traditional lifestyles that continue to endure despite the onslaught of the modern world.

Originally published in EL Magazine, July 2010

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Written by Nicholas Vroman

July 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

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