The Valley (La Vallee)

Barbet Schroeder is one of the leading producer-directors of the post-New Wave French Cinema. He has produced all of Rohmer's moral tales, and worked as both assistant and co-producer with Jean-Luc Godard. His first film as a director was More (1969). His second was The Valley, which was filmed in 1971 on location in New Guinea. The film follows the journey of a young French woman, the wife of the French consul in Melbourne, to New Guinea and its uncharted interior. Initially, the purpose of her travel is to purchase articles of native craft for a Paris boutique: but upon meeting a hippie explorer named Gaetan, and experiencing quasi-psychedelic visions, she joins his expedition to find a certain valley marked on the maps as “obscured by clouds.” The photography by Nestor Almendros is absolutely stunning; the dramatic dignity of the New Guineans always impressive. But the strength of the film lies in Bulle Ogier's performance as Viviane. As the British critic Verina Glaesser has written: “It is through her performance that the journey becomes less a freakist outing and more a genuinely dream-like and mystic experience as the fashionable and business-oriented wife of the French consul finds her lines of communication with the outside world coming down one by one, and gradually comes to realise that the journey itself has touched something fundamental in her being and that return is impossible.”

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