Oct 24, 2009

Eden à l'Ouest

It was impossible to find subtitles for this film, but I decided to watch it anyway and soon realized translation wasn't needed for the most part. And this is because dialogues are scarce and even when they do happen they're a largely intelligible mixture of basic vocabulary from French, English, German, Greek and Italian.

The theme was pretty clear from the start - Eden a l'Ouest is, of course, a story about illegal immigration. Playing the main character in his journey from native Greece to Paris is Ricardo Scarmacio, who's not Greek but looks Greek enough, or at least Balkan enough. What I liked about the film was the picaresque atmosphere, the road-movie style, how it pictures Elias' adventures starting from an overcrowded boat on the Mediterranean and ending (at least as far as the film goes) on Champs Elysees. The candidly naive manner in which he pursues his dream of becoming a magician, which at some points reminded me of Benigni's incessant cheerfulness in La vita e bella. Plus how Elias literally arrives in France with nothing but a few clothes on, after a night of swimming, and yet is instantly ready to start his adventure and adopt what will turn out to be a series of roles and identities to help him get nearer the Parisian dream. Scarmacio is versatile and charismatic enough to constantly keep you wanting to see what will happen next.

What didn't work for me was the character's initial motivation - I don't think Greece in the 90s-2000s is the kind of country that people would want to immigrate from, not to mention illegally in another EU country. I do understand Costa Gavras is sharing some autobiographical data, but it might have helped to choose a more appropriate time frame.


srn said...

Am gasit dar in franceza: http://subscene.com/Eden-At-The-West-Eden-louest/subtitles-78813.aspx

adina said...

no luck with making these ones work with my version of the film. however, I don't feel I've missed much without them. or did I?