On a ranch-style farm in south west of France, Jane Cavalieri, 14, lives protected by the love of her father Ludovic and his grandfather Papifou. The sudden death of her father, in a terrorist attack, plunges Jane into a waking dream.
The Digital offers us an immaterial connection with human souls.
That's what says Ludovic Cavalieri to his daughter. For this reason, after the death of her father, Jane imagines to talking to him with her digital tablet. This film is about the impressiveness of the dream and the spiritual in the life and our relationship with new technologies, in particular video chat.
Nature takes care of us when we experience difficult events.
Nature is a central and spiritual dimension of this film. After the death of her father, Jane (and her grand-father) finds this lush nature like a peaceful friend.
The Photography is influenced by Impressionist painting.
The theme of intergenerational relations is treated with modesty and dreaminess, alternating moments of short dialogues and musical moments.
The poetry, in particular the poems of Michelangelo, accompanies these characters whose family history is inscribed in filiation with this artist of the Italian Renaissance.
I N T E R V I E W W I T H T H E D I R E C T O R , Y A N N I K R U A U L T
Yannik Ruault is a French filmmaker. In his films, he explores the original cinematographic technique of the Organic Motion. ABRAHADABRA is his first feature length film.
How is the initial idea of “Abrahadabra” coming?
I like finding the dimension of dream, tales and legends in films. The idea of this project was born in 2011 at the Cannes Film Festival during a discussion with the team of Studio Harcourt Paris. We spoke about the desire to make a film on photography, I read the poems of Michelangelo and the magic sun of Cannes did the rest! In a second time, on TV news, I saw a testimony from a friend from a terrorist attack victim who said " from him, there was only his photo, upon the coffin". At this moment I created a relation between photographic portrait and terrorist attack and I decided to make a film dedicated to the younger generation, by approaching, in a peaceful way, issues like terrorism through photography, poetry and the dreaming world.
What is the signification of "Abrahadabra" ?
"Abrahadabra" is a magic formula that appeared publicly in the Book of the Law (1904), the central sacred text of Thelema. Its author, Aleister Crowley, described it as the word which means "The Great Work accomplished”(1). Abrahadabra is the magic formula of fulfilling an individual in the World.(1) "The Great Work" is the creation of man by himself, the full and complete conquest of his faculties and his future; It is above all the perfect emancipation of his will.
What about the script and its writing process?
Writing the script took several years. Writing is an exciting exercise. Write a script is subject to constraints, which makes it (in my eyes) even more exciting.
Why did you choose a tablet to shoot some sequences?
Shooting with a tablet corresponds to my artistic approach. I intend to explore the organic dimension of the camera ("Organic motion"). This creates a direct connection to the film with the viewer. For example, in ABRAHADABRA, when we see what Jane is filming with her tablet, we are immediately in Jane's eyes. The idea to use tablets was born during my discussions with the director Jean-Pierre MOCKY. I also learned a lot from him about how to make independent cinema.
What kind of filming methods did you use to picture the natural world?
In this film, we used both traditional cameras and digital tablets. I chose to use these tools different ways. The tablet is used suggestively, depending on the body of the person who manipulates the camera (technique of the organic motion). The classic camera brings an objective look, always at a distance from the stage, with fixed shot or simple rotation. The composition of the images is also different. With the tablet the images are raw, without intention of composition, for more realism. With the classical camera, images are composed like impressionistic and romantic paintings; I thought of the pieces from MONET, GAUGUIN, DEGAS, VAN GOGH, MILLET, GAINSBOROUGH... The classic camera brings here a more aesthetic look, creating an almost artificial decoration (although the natural decors have been modified very little). This film offers a travel in a world where the real and the imaginary intertwine, a magic world.
We could be surprised because in this film with a dramatic subject, there is no suffering and no tears by Jane Cavalieri, the main character. Why this absence?
When we watch a film in which a young girl loses her father in a terrorist attack, we expect to see her crying, suffering, especially because the tears, the suffering, the violence, are usual in the actual cinema. But it is not the case in this film. I chose another angle. I chose the Jane's awake dream. This film shows us the few days before the death of her father and the few days after. During the few days after the death of her father, Jane refuses this death. For Jane, her father is still here, with her. With her tablet, she talks to him and she shares with him life on the ranch. Jane doesn't accept the death of her father; she does what is called "denial". There are tensions with his grandfather (on the stairs, at the photographer studio). There is Jane who dreams and the Jane who lives, who isolates herself from the real world. This film shows us the dreaming Jane. In opposition, her grandfather is in the real, the material. He's in pain, he's crying... he's trying to keep Jane in the real world. I suppose that after the end of the film Jane will can (finally) start crying.
Reflets dans l'Oeil du Chat (Short film)
Le fruit défendu (Short film)