Magnum Begynasium Bruxellense
Boris Lehman was born in Lausanne in 1944 of Polish-Jewish parents. He has made several experimental and fiction films, and has collaborated with such Belgian filmmakers as Henri Storck and Chantal Akerman. At the Club Antonin Artaud, a center for the mentally handicapped, Lehman used the medium of film as a therapeutic technique, scenes from which are included in Magnum Begynasium Bruxellense.
Magnum Begynasium Bruxellense is a life chronicle about the residents of the “Beguinage” district, so named because it is situated on the site of the old Beguines' Convent of Brussels. Conceived as an encyclopedic inventory, the film is composed of some thirty chapters arranged like pieces of a puzzle, or resembling a termitary with its many crossed galleries.
Magnum Begynasium Bruxellense is a nostalgic and archeological film. There is neither interview nor commentary. More than a documentary film, it is an allegory on the passage of time, the expectation of death and the languishing of beings and things. The formalist aspect of the film (long and static shots, slow travellings, opposition of cluttered space inside and emptiness outside, use of twirling and repetitive music) underlines and reinforces these notions. Black and white (as well as direct sound) was used in the principal sequences, whereas color was used for details. By so doing, the film constantly unfolds on two levels (one more realistic the other more symbolic, even imaginary) always sliding between the two.