Η Isabella Rossellini, σκηνοθετεί, γράφει και παρουσιάζει δίλεπτα πορτραίτα των ασυνήθιστων τεχνικών αποπλάνησης που υιοθετούν πλάσματα του ζωικού βασιλείου, από τα μικρότερα έντομα μέχρι τα μεγαλύτερα θηλαστικά. Απίθανα αισθητικά αλλά πάνω απ' όλα προκλητικά, επειδή ριζικά αμφισβητούν τον ένα και μοναδικό τρόπο που μας έχουν μάθει να αντιλαμβανόμαστε την ερωτική έλξη και πράξη.
Jean-Pierre Barou: First of all, by what single trait would you define love in the animal world?
Frederic Rossif: By madness. One thing that has always seemed amazing to me is that when they're in heat. Animals lose all their inhibitions; for some of them, you can't even get close enough to film except at that time. Because that's when they're really out of their senses. They're hopelessly distracted. You can even kill them. You really have to have seen animals supremely "in love": they don't move anymore.
The motionless of madness...
To the extent that several small tribes in antiquity, and still today, prohibit hunting during this period, in the course of spring and autumn.
You have filmed many love scenes between animals. That must be much more than just a spectacle.
Sometimes, there's a fear in the face of it. I shall repeat something Michel Foucault told me one day: It's really the feeling of animality, of this animality which drives us crazy, which makes us happy, which makes us sad. The spirit of celebration is so complete. You run after one another, you fall, you fall again. Wild goats coming down from mountain tops by the hundreds, jump, turn and fight. They have become so crazy, so magical, that they leap 20 or 30 meters. Some die in the fall. The flock doesn't stop; it keeps going, dragged along by a strong wind...
Does absolute love exist?
Certainly. Take for instance antigonal cranes. Antigonal cranes whose love dances last for hours. They talk to one another; spread their wings, and walk around each other. They jump up with their feet, like wild dancers. And then, when one dies - the Indians say - the other lets himself die, too. It's a discontinuity of life, maybe due to a kind of symbolic relationship between two beings who help one another.
The lion, too, is faithful...
The lion is faithful because the lioness beats him; he receives terrible beatings. That's completely different.
It's the law of the jungle.
In a way. Take the case of prairie dogs in Africa, licaons. You know, they're terrifying animals that kill everything in their path. Nothing can stop them. They attack collectively, be it a hyena, buffalo, giraffe or a lion. Yet, one of the greatest animal specialists, if not the best, in my eyes, Miss Jane Goodall, followed for a year a band of licaons whose leader was a female. This female had three or four males directly depending on her sexually. One day, one of the males cohabitated with another female who became pregnant. The licaon, the head of the band, first relegated her rival to the very end of the group; then, when the latter gave birth, she took her babies and killed them all, except for one, the puniest, which she gave as she would a toy, or a slave to her own children, only after that did she definitively exclude her rival from the group. You see, one can also find absolutely ferocious jealousy.
It depends on the species, the groups. One of the most beautiful love stories I know is about the orchid and the bee, the huge wasp of New Guinea. The orchid smells like female genitalia (of the wasp). SO the male goes straight at it and makes love to the plant. He rubs his stinger against it. Afterwards, the female smells his odor and comes and rubs herself in it, in her turn. That's how she is impregnated, through the plant. Strange ... why doesn't the couple ever meet, except through the plant? What physiological, biological laws of the world of smells and feelings give rise to this trio?
And, how about possible homosexual or incestual relations?
There's lots of homosexuality, even though it really doesn't make sense to put it in those terms. Lets just say that caresses between females exist as well as do those between males and between children and parents. The young lion, from his first and a half year up, begins to desire his mother; sometimes, his father kills him. And the mother defends her son, who is her lover. You know the love celebration is often preceded by fatal battles. Animals fight each other to death. Males fight to get the female. Death precedes this great love madness, that great leap where everything changes. Afterwards, they become very mournful. They make themselves up, decorating and painting themselves.
In Australia, in New Guinea, birds decorate their nest in red, blue and green.
Yes, but, paint themselves?
That too! Some even change color and appearance.
In order to seduce?
Of course! You also have love songs and cries. It's a characteristic of that period. The wolf makes love cries for hours. The sound, the sonorous welcome, the sonorous relationship are very important. Something really amazing: giraffe are deaf animals who, in that situation, start what one might call long mime routines: each wraps and rubs his neck around the other one's, and - who knows? - thus, compensating for an absence of sound.
For you, this animal world, when you look at it, does it correspond to a salvation.
It is to live in salvation. It's especially to live in something unlearned. For me, animals, as Bachelard said so well, are our oldest companions in dreaming. While filming them, I'm filming a lost dream, a dream which goes back thousands of years, well into prehistoric times. I'm able to hear love, the deep cry, death, the forest, water and rhythms. And all because there was a mask, masks, walls set up, historical circumstances. All of which were a continual turning-away-from our animality.
Are you recommending this animality?
What I mean is that there are lost celebrations deep in our memory. We must endeavor to remember them. If we succeed, we'll be like the poets and prophets. If we rediscover the poetry of our cradle, we'll have the memory of the future. Because, either we disappear, or, assuming there is a future for man, it will once again be poetic.
You have repeatedly reminded us that animals, before dying, fight once again.
A wounded animal is dangerous. A wounded man is wounded; he's good for a stretcher. A wounded lion attacks with all his might. Same with the elephant. Man thinks of God. Animals don't have Gods. They have only the present. An animal doesn't bargain with his death. We do! That indicates a lack of animality.