Thursday, May 15, 2008
My first viewing of Diva was in the early 1980s, just after it was released on video. I haven't seen it since then, but 25 years on, I can still remember the impact it had.
It is an ambitious, genre-jumping piece, one moment a romance, then a thriller, all seasoned with visual and verbal comedy.
The plot isn't complex. Young postal messenger Jules (Frederic Andrei) is obsessively in love with opera singer Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez). Jules has made a bootleg tape of Cynthia (Ms Hawkins refuses to let her work be recorded). This gets 'swapped' with another tape that puts him high on the wanted list of some very nasty people.
The cinematography is excellent, the Parisian settings are uber-cool, and the soundtrack is superb. Diva's director Jean-Jacques Beineix (along with Luc Besson and Leos Carax) is associated with the 'Cinema du Look', whose slogan is 'The image is the message'. When I saw my first Luc Besson film (I'm reviewing that soon), I immediately thought of Diva.
If you want to read a lot of intellectual stuff about Beineix's themes, Google his name. You'll find a large occurrence of the words 'postmodern', 'values' and 'information'.
But watch the film first. All the characters are enjoyable and the themes are clear without being too obvious. I've just ordered the DVD on Amazon for a very reasonable £6, and am looking forward to revisiting it soon.