Claire Denis Talks ‘High Life,’ The Taboos & Sexual Violence Of Her Career & More [Rotterdam MasterClass Conversation]

The Playlist | 1/29/2019 | Joseph Owen
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This week International Film Festival Rotterdam is hosting a wide programme of Masterclasses at Le Jardin Hilton in central Rotterdam. We’ll be bringing coverage of cinematic luminaries including Claire Denis, Jia Zhang-ke and Cliff Martinez, as they recount the defining moments in their careers to date.

It is often said that Claire Denis is a director of rhythm, of accumulation, of images that fade into an ellipsis. To appreciate tension, to elongate it, to suffuse it with meaning — Denis’s work consists of this search, one that finds tenderness among horror and violence within serenity. It is a cinema of static will and empty spaces, of resisting denouement, of frightful, sensuous anticipation. This has led to controversy, that emptiest of words, and accusations of obstinacy, of needless difficulty. With this in mind, Denis’s Masterclass during IFFR 2019 was a smooth, convivial affair, one that both deviated from and indulged in the lazy, gendered musings above.

Clip - Opening - Section - High - Life

We were first shown a clip from the opening section of “High Life,” one of intense green and yellow fauna, of rhythmic tone and sound, of Robert Pattinson’s cosmonaut, who is attending both his baby girl and external spacecraft repairs.

“The little girl was great, and Robert Pattinson was so inside the project — he was trustful of me. I find this scene so touching. I realize the importance of music composed by Stuart A. Staples, who I’ve worked with for twenty years. For this film, I wanted to be far away from the solar system, in an old rusty ship, looking at the gel between baby and man. I wanted this scene to be as if it were at the end of the story rather than at the beginning. For me, the precious idea of the film is that of man alone,...
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