La vie rêvée des anges

The Europeans

A touching homage to the continental coming-of-age film. Come, hear our ecstatic cries. We beg you.

kirby

Who is like the Europeans?

To the Europeans, living is an art.

You could say that the Europeans celebrate life.

Europeans seldom work.

They drink wine all day until the sun goes down and then they drink coffee.

Everything that Europeans say is meaningful.

They don’t speak, preferring instead to mime, unless they are asked to discourse on the nature of existence.

Europeans begin forming complex narratives about the nature of existence during early childhood.

They eat melted cheese with their bare hands.

They are all, of course, atheists.

Europeans practically glow with good health.

They consume rare steaks at noon and swallow whole wheels of triple-cream cheese at the day’s end.

They wash down their meals with gallons of young wine and beer consumed directly from the casks.

They smoke several packs of unfiltered cigarettes during every meal.

They smoke as they chew their steak and the taste of the smoke mingles with the steak and the wine.

For Europeans, life is a celebration.

Europeans have an intense connection with the land of their nascence.

They work the earth and enjoy the fruits of the earth and make love to the earth and make love to each other upon the earth.

They tend to have enormous families even though they are cautious during intercourse and take RU-486 immediately following every meal.

European women wash down whole bottles of RU-486 with young wine and carouse in the streets in search of mimes and men with creative facial hair.

They dance the night away in clubs that open at six in the morning and don’t close until mid-afternoon.

For Europeans, clubbing is a cultural event.

Europeans have so much je ne sais quoi that they make screwing a mime into a cultural event.

At autumn harvest festivals, onlookers cheer as mimes writhe in silent ecstasy while being devoured by existentialist sluts hopped up on RU-486.

Europeans invented culture.

Europeans make movies about things nobody else can understand.

Although they invented every genre of music, they choose to listen exclusively to eighties techno.

Europeans know something nobody else knows.

Because they are celebrators of life, Europeans have created complex ceremonies for each of life’s milestones.

No such milestone is as exalted as the famous “Coming of Age.” When young Europeans reach their thirteenth year, they are captured on 35mm being seduced, toyed with, and eventually overcome in love by a distant relative. Even in a rural village, a European father will scrimp for years to pay production fees and directors’ exorbitant salaries in order to capture the tender moments when his teenage daughter is deflowered in the bread closet by her cousin, Gaerta, then six months pregnant. He will work closely with the art director and production team to address such issues as the quality of light in the bread closet: it must be vibrant yet subtle—intense and confusing, as if reflected by a spoon. Gaerta’s hands should appear strong, almost masculine as they make their way darkly into the folds of the daughter’s austere, black frock.

In a nearby city, another young European is depicted in the urgent moments of childhood’s end. Sasha hails from a wealthier, noble family. His father, a successful vintner, has hired Jean-Jacques Annaud himself to film Sasha lying nude on a divan, fashionably glossed lips slightly parted as his robust Spanish aunt and two swarthy male cousins look on in anticipation. Annaud is a master of his craft. Sasha’s expression is breathlessly androgynous and his skin appears taut and dewy, like a young grape on the lee side of a hillock. Nothing happens during the film yet everything is implied. Sasha’s father is pleased.

Upon completion of the film, the parents of a young debutante feast and revel nightly and con mucho gusto as they await the final step in the coming-of-age process: the screening of the film in America (or, if the picture goes directly to video, which is usually the case, the first rental). But over the years, this final rite has become increasingly difficult to perform on account of a saturated market. American consumers are saying “Stop! We have a limited demand for this sort of product.”

The tragic result of every unwatched coming-of-age movie is a European youth doomed to remain thirteen years old indefinitely—

An apple blossom paralyzed by a late frost

An origami crane crumpled in a child’s palm

A tiger that leaps as if to kill, but only leaps as if

A dog that lifts his leg to pee and then decides not to . . .

The parents of these unfortunates are bound by tradition to feast and revel every night, in some cases until their bloated, cirrhotic demise. Their children are doomed to remain permanently thirteen, permanently confused.

Siblings of these trapped souls are left to weather life’s trials without the shelter that comes from numbers, like solitary baobabs on the pampas.

For Europeans unable to complete puberty, the situation is grave indeed.

They need your help.

They must taste the subtle wine of old age if they are to fully celebrate life.

Help them celebrate.

How can they continue to celebrate when they cannot drink the wine of old age?

They need to drink that they might celebrate.

The wine is in your hands.

The wine is in your local video store.

Give them the wine.

Rent their movies.

Apply your ears to their ecstatic cries.


If you are inspired to respond to this appeal, kirby suggests you consider the following Continental exports:

  • L'Amoureuse (a.k.a. The Lover, France 1987)
  • La vie rêvée des anges (a.k.a. Dreamlife of Angels and Daydreams of Angels, France 1998)
  • Les roseaux sauvages (a.k.a. Le chêne et le roseau and The Wild Reeds, France 1994)
  • Fucking Åmål (a.k.a. Show Me Love, Denmark 1998)
  • La Boum (a.k.a. The Party, France 1980—and don’t forget La Boum 2, 1982)

And more seriously:

  • Hitlerjunge Salomon (a.k.a. Europa, Europa, Germany/France/Poland 1990)
  • Les quatre cents coups, (a.k.a. The 400 Blows, France 1959)
posted by editor ::: July 12, 2002 ::: pheatures ::: (0) Comments