The Model Couple (Le Couple Témoin)
William Klein, France1977, 35mm transferred to DVD, 100 min, French, German and English with English subtitles
In this prescient sci-fi farce, the fictional Ministry of Future offers an average French couple the opportunity to function as test subjects in the development of an ideal City of the Future. Confined to a modular prototype apartment, they live under constant televised surveillance and public scrutiny as a team of scientists subjects them to a range of psychometric and behavioural tests, often vexing and absurd. The experience proves revealing both for the couple and for the scientists (themselves mere workers exploited by the Ministry), until a group of pubescent ‘terrorists’ occupies the model apartment to free the couple from their standardised, aseptic prison through the unleashing of sheer juvenile chaos. A critique of the distortions of modernist utopias into postwar architecture and design, which looks shockingly prophetic from the present perspective of a society bombarded with reality TV shows and ruled by the logic of market research.
Chris Marker, France1962, 35mm, 28 min, narrated in English
William Klein and his wife Janine appear as beings from the future in Chris Marker’s seminal science fiction photo-roman (photo-novel), set in a post-apocalyptic present where the surviving inhabitants of Paris live underground in the galleries of the Palais de Chaillot. Klein also narrates the story, acircular, paradoxical account of an individual trapped in time. Experimented on by his captors, he is forced to travel within his memory’s mental images into a past and future built on recollections and connections. The hope of deliverance, or the pursuit of change, is based on the strength of memory’s images, the premise that if one were ‘able to conceive, or to dream another time perhaps would they be able live in it.’ As such, he is trapped not only in memory, but also within history. Caught between fragments of still images and text we follow the fractured relations between fiction and memory full circle, from formation to destruction, stillness to movement. Marker, an editor at Editions du Seuil, also published Klein’s first photography book, Life is Good & Good for You in New York: Trance Witness Revels.