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Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Life and Fate, Before Sunset



This Hollywood oral history tells the story of Richard Linklater's "Before" Trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. The films appeared 9 years apart, and tell the story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. I find the second film to be the most interesting, really a masterpiece of filmmaking (I have a copy on the hard drive of the laptop I write this on :-). The events in Before Sunset take place in real time -- i.e., the story transpires over the run time of the movie, a single afternoon. Shooting it must have been extremely challenging for Delpy and Hawke, and for the crew.

The video above should start at 23:30, and explains how Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke came together to do the sequel. I think that event was, in some sense, the most contingent of those responsible for the trilogy. The first movie made very little money, and hence the idea to make a second, very different film -- about the complexity of life, the passage of time, lost chances -- was neither obvious nor inevitable.

The first movie is about a one night tryst between 20-something travelers, but the second movie takes place a decade later. The protagonists, while still young, have experienced more of life and the second film is richer and more complex, despite taking place over an even shorter period of time. I remember being excited to see it, not so much because of Before Sunrise (which I found entertaining, but not as special), but because of the intriguing premise of two lovers meeting again by chance after losing track of each other for so long.

Here's a scene from Before Sunset: a long take of walking and conversation in beautiful Paris, camera following Hawke and Delpy in a totally naturalistic way.




I hesitate to include this trailer because it's kind of cheesy, but if you're not familiar with the trilogy it explains the premise of the first two films.




The video below is a nice discussion of the trilogy. Just now I learned (thanks, AI!) that Before Sunrise is based on actual events in Linklater's life -- see here for the poignant story of the real life muse for these films.




Richard Linklater also directed Dazed and Confused -- one of the greatest high school movies ever made, and a beautiful evocation of adolescence in late-70s, early-80s America.

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