I have a crazy theory: it’s impossible to take a good picture in New Zealand, despite being one of the most picturesque countries on the planet It’s as if the camera suffered from ESS (Electronic Stendhal’s Syndrome). Nevertheless, Jane Campion proved, with THE PIANO, that North Island could be made to serve as an exceptional film set. Eleanor Catton, on the other hand, manages to transport us to the South Island with her novel THE LUMINARIES, now a TV adaptation for HBO. Both, though, come with a colonial bias, albeit tempered with Maori touches.
Today, a Nobel and an Oscar on the shores of the Baltic. Poland had always seemed distant to me, both as an idea and as a real place on the map. Getting to know her better led me to discover Olga Tokarczuk and her work. «Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead» is a good novel to get you started (albeit not the most representative) and to help you delve into the landscapes of the Polish south which is her home. Cold war by Paweł Pawlikowski is a small (simple and polished) masterpiece of contemporary cinema, as essential as «Ida», another marvel by the same director.
Congo is not a place, it is a continent. With Conrad’s permission, I’d like to highlight two pieces set in this unlikely country. Gorillas in the mist, starring Sigourney Weaver, requires no introduction. Everyone knows the incredible adventure of the ill-fated Dian Fossey and her mountain gorillas. In contrast, Barbara Kingsolver and her books do not often get the recognition they deserve. The naturalistic prose of this biologist-turned-writer transports us to each of the worlds she writes about. Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible takes us to Congo in colonial transition. A real story and a fictional one in a country that eternally transits between reality and fiction.