L’Auberge Espagnole is one of the most interesting films I have seen recently. A young man is going to enter into the European Union offices but before doing this he must learn Spanish and understand the Spanish economy. It is for this reason that he sets off to Barcelona leaving one life behind and creating a new one. He finds the departure quite hard and once he gets there he encounters many challenges.
Editing is one of the most important features of a film because it affects how we feel whilst watching a film. In this particular film we find that he uses accelerated sequences to show how large and boring the building is, showing how many papers are needed in order to set off on Erasmus. Through those two sections we are transported into the bureaucracy which one must go through for Erasmus.
With multi camera sequences of multi screen action we are reminded of Timecode, experimental film seeing how people would react to four screens covering one event so that we know what is happening all at once. In this particular film though it is to show the unity of the groups of friends when it is found out that a person’s lover has come to visit but the girl friend is with another.
We have Anne So and her husband living together in one apartment. We also have a group of students living in a small flat in town. These students are of mixed nationalities. We have an Italian, Spanish, French, German, English and Belge mixture of students living together and to some degree national stereotypes are played on but more than anything else they are a group of students living within a flat at the center of barcelona and solidarity is present within the group.
Within this film the character which could be disliked most of all is the English boy whose sister is studying in Barcelona. He carries out several faux pas not because he is evil but because he is inexperienced in inter european relations.
Adaptability is one of the key words for this film both between nationalities but also between being in our home country or being away from it. Anne Sophie is more reserved and closed off from the community to some extent and this affects how quickly she becomes part of the community and learns the language. In comparison our main character becomes a regular at one of the bars where he goes to study and through this becomes an integral part of the community.
There is a good conversation between the main character and Anne Sophie about the city as a whole. The argument is about Barcelona being a dirty city through Anne Sophie’s eyes. Our main character thinks that it is no worse than Anne Sophie and during this confrontation he opens up her eyes towards what is important when traveling. The message within that short sequence is to let people know to accept a place they have been staying in rather than resenting it because life becomes more fun at this stage.
After having been forgo ten by his forgo ten our main character is finding it very hard to live and goes into a deep funk of watching MTV etc. During this time his whole life has been put into question and he has become insecure. He goes to see his friend the neuro surgeon to make sure that everything is fine. During the scan time we see a dream sequence within which we are inside the hospital. He has forgo ten his mother tongue due to the strain and sees that the doctor knows about his relationship’s closeness with Anne Sophie and so our main character has lost everything. Everything within life is about gain and loss. It is important because without gain and without loss the film would stay at a stand still and it’s characters would be uninteresting. Whilst watching it I drew parallels to the emotions the person must have felt over a year of being away from his previous way of life. Once back home though his way of life is different anyway.
Language and understanding
Language is one of the base elements of this film. Learning a language is a challenge and through this challenge of a new language we learn far more about a culture than we would otherwise. It is through the language barriers that everyone is put on the same level. In knowing only french and not wanting to learn Catalan because they need Spanish which is a european language they are posing the question of globalization and it’s negative effects on cultural identity. A conversation is centered around this point and contributes a great deal to the structure of the film.
Languages are used as a means of segmenting the groups into sub categories, we have the conversation when the main character is to be allowed into the flat about his speaking french and the problem it creates. This is quickly rebuffed though when the Italian and Spanish talk about how different they are. What would commonly have been a unifying element is not.
Conversely when both french speakers join they create a camaderie (friendship) which allows for us to gain more incite into the characters. With the english girl and her brother another rapport. The interaction between those two people is important because it reflects how people we know may behave when seeing that we are of a different nationality than we are. The English lad creates a lot of bad sentiment when he speaks with the ignorance of someone who has not travel led enough. He is so stuck in popular culture that he fails to understand that words which categorize spain are not accurate as illustrated by the Spanish and German characters walking away from him.
In adding this young brother to the film it is possible to understand the importance that education and knowledge have on the way we interact with people. If we know nothing then we are more likely to offend them and there is a loss. When people take time to understand others then progress may be made. This is compunded with the argument between brother and sister and the reunification. Without the ability to learn the reunification would not have taken place and ignorance would remain a problem.
This film is an experimental film exploring various editing styles, narrative devices and language challenges. Through watching this film we gain a better understanding of the challenges of moving from where we have grown up, the challenge of making new friendships and of understanding other people, whether simple elements like cleanliness or more complex elements such as cultural identity