Spotlight on “Vers La Bataille”, the ambitious first feature film by Aurélien Vernhes-Lermusiaux, with Malik Zidi and Leynar Gomez, on view on Wednesday May 26, 2021.
What is it about ?
Around 1860, Louis, a photographer, managed to convince a general of the French army to send him to Mexico to take pictures of the colonial war that was raging there. On the spot, lost between the lines, always out of time, Louis is unable to find the fights and take the slightest shot.
His meeting with Pinto, a Mexican peasant to whom he will link his destiny, will lead him to discover, not fame and money, but a way to face the ghosts of his past.
Towards the battle, directed by Aurélien Vernhes-Lermusiaux, written by Aurélien Vernhes-Lermusiaux and Olivier Demangel. With Malik Zidi, Leynar Gomez, Thomas Chabrol …
Released May 26, 2021.
An aesthetic and thematic ambition
The first feature-length film by Aurélien Vernhes-Lermusiaux, Towards the battle first attracts attention through its ambition, whether aesthetic or thematic. The filmmaker who has previously signed documentaries and short films which have allowed him to experiment and find his way, gives this first feature film a remarkable plastic and sensory touch.
We feel a desire to approach History with a modern look and turned towards an aesthetic approach summoning great filmmakers (Werner Herzog or Lucrecia Martel), with false western airs.
“I thought of Kelly Reichardt’s The Last Track for the motive of wandering and the tension that exists between the spaces filmed and the figures that cross them. More generally, I am very sensitive to Antonioni and Tarkovski who remain overwhelming references. However, it is from them that I get the taste for the sequence shot“, indicates the young filmmaker in the press kit of the film.
The ambition of the film also goes through its subject, the raw material of which is historical and documentary, but the film is indeed a fiction. As Aurélien Vernhes-Lermusiaux himself defines it, we could speak of a “fiction inspired by“.
“The first idea was to film the precursors, the pioneers of a new technique (of photography)”. And to add: “I had a strong desire to tell about this tool, especially at a time when its use was still very restrictive (…)
“While writing the screenplay, I discovered the writings of Jean-Charles Langlois, a former soldier and painter of panoramas, sent to Crimea by Napoleon III to take pictures of the French army. He was the ancestor of the war reporters in a way. In his book, he questions his approach as a technician and he also talks about his relationship to the world, to the horror of war that he was discovering, he questions his position as a human being… His writings fed the film a lot. “
This historical background also makes it possible to tackle more intimate subjects such as death or memory.
Towards the Battle is available in theaters today.