Dunkirk Carnival — for a whole month, there are rowdy balls, fancy-dress parades, a drink or two, and Jacques Higelin — a famous french singer — giving a running commentary on his guitar.
Jacques Higelin as a freewheeling choirmaster, interviews conducted whilst dancing, revellers kissing each other on the mouth… It’s 1972 and a libertarian, post-May ’68 wind is blowing through the Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF) and this episode of a French public television programme. The film crew submerges us in the dancing, the bawdy singing and bedlam that have taken over Dunkirk. These images of the carnival alternate with scenes of work at the shipyards, of the dockers and labourers in their overalls, and a working-class wedding. Order and disorder, like the two sides of the same city. In that case, is celebration nothing but “organised disorder that strengthens order” as proclaims the graffiti? This question permeates the film, which is caught dreaming like the young girl doing her make-up in front of the mirror: “what if we organised an unbeatable, unbowed celebration?”
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