Vedere la Scienza Festival

XV International Scientific TV, Film and AV Media Festival

Milano   2/5/2011 - 8/5/2011

Spazio Oberdan, Viale Vittorio Veneto 2 - MILANO
Mediateca Santa Teresa, Via Moscova 28 - MILANO


L’oeuvre au noir

  1. Author: da Marguerite Yourcenar
  2. Director: André Delvaux
  3. Screenplay: André Delvaux
  4. Editor: Albert Jurgenson, Nadine Muse, Jean-Pierre Resnard
  5. Photography: Charles Van Damme
  6. Scenography: Françoise Hardy, Claude Pignot
  7. Music: Frédéric Devreese
  8. Starring:
    Gian Maria Volonté, Sami Frey, Anna Karina, Jacques Lippe, Philippe Léotard
  9. France
  10. 110 min.
  11. 1988

In the Flanders swept by the sanctimonious and coercive power of Renaissance Spain, Zenon Ligre, a physician and alchemist devoted to natural sciences, spends part of his youth wandering from county to county out of his greed for knowledge and ascetic desire. At forty, however, he returns to his native city Bruges to nurture his intellectual zeal at the convent of Corteliers, where he serves as a physician and carer. It is the start of a new season of his life: he shifts his speculation from great themes to the relation between the body and the world, surrenders to nature’s flow, and performs within himself the “oeuvre au noir”, i.e. the alchemic phase of form fusion, the relinquishment of partiality and the purification of matter. Thus the physician becomes a mystic object himself: the phase of “nigredo” allows him to purge himself of the worshipping philosophies of his time and acquire new consciousness. His friend prior conceals his identity, but rumours on the alchemic practices of the new Belgian Paracelsus soon start to spread insistently. Charged with sorcery and murder, he is convicted and sentenced to death. Zenon chooses suicide rather than surrender to his undeserved end by the hand of mean executioners. A rational and conscious suicide, tinted with the alchemic colours of “albedo” and “rubedo” and releasing him from hypocritical religious, intellectual, political, sexual, and racist conformity. An utterly modern conformity.