De Raphaël Botiveau film 2017, 15min
“Looking elsewhere to enable here,” wrote the recently deceased political anthropologist Georges Balandier in a definition of his discipline. To get a handle on the media frenzy around the “migrant crisis,” London Calling offers a detour through history and the movies.
Co-written with Hélène Baillot (University Paris 1), the film presents a group of amateur actors, onetime inhabitants of the Calais “Jungle,” playing the parts of Jean-Paul Belmondo and his pals in Weekend in Dunkirk. Made by Henri Verneuil in 1964, the movie set in spring 1940 shows a detachment of French soldiers trapped in the “Dunkirk pocket” searching for a way to flee across the Channel to England.
This parallel between a present drowned in 24-hour rolling news and a major but neglected episode in history offers a reminder of what is possible in extremis. Today, in what is a time of peace, the fate of the several thousand people caught between Europe and England seems an insurmountable problem. Yet, nearly eighty years ago, the British and the French managed, in just nine days, to rescue no less than 340,000 men trapped in Dunkirk by the Nazi advance. Confronting the present with history should not be reduced to that vain wish of “never again.” It also serves as a reminder of what, together and against all odds, we were once capable.
Now forgotten the “Spirit of Dunkirk” was long celebrated on the other side of the Channel as a supreme example of resistance and collective selflessness in the face of adversity.
Oeuvres de Raphaël Botiveau produites par Le Fresnoy :