Les Rendez-vous d’Anna

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Where, indeed, does the moon not look well? What is the scene, confined or expansive, which her orb does not hallow? – Charlotte Brontë

There is no real sense of space in a nationalist sense to Chantal Akerman’s Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978). Different countries and the places therein are all part of one vast lonely landscape. Borders, designations of “otherness” come from people, society. Signs, boards, text, voices, announcements; these are the harbringers of geographical changes.

Anna (Aurore Clément) travels Europe unaffected by these aforementioned shifts. These Inorganic portents have no meaning in terms of national identity on the superficial level. Instead they broadcast a distance traversed, a time spent. Movement through time and space is what removes Anna, takes her out of context and the audience along with her.

Akerman imbues Anna with a number of aspects taken from her own life, casting her as a surrogate to the filmmaker. That Anna is a filmmaker matters very little, what is important is that she is a facet of Akerman. As we the audience watch Anna on her journey we too lose ourselves and become removed from all context. To watch a film is very much akin to taking a journey, albeit a cerebral one, not a physical one. As one would with every step, with each frame of Les Rendez-vous d’Anna we move further from our lives. So the question becomes, where are we or Anna going?

Perhaps we are moving toward Anna/Akerman as the spectacle of Les Rendez-vous d’Anna plays out. This is the conundrum. For Akerman filmmaking is about shedding one’s context to assume that of the film being made, a process that is philosophically identical to that of the spectator viewing that film. In the character of Anna those processes become linked, they touch, they enter a subtle discourse where sameness is acknowledged on both sides. Aurore Clément is the face of this nexus, the point of convergence, an anchor towards which both processes literally converge.

Les Rendez-vous d’Anna turns the camera around from the scenes of Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) back onto the filmmaker herself. There really is nothing anomalous about Les Rendez-vous d’Anna, despite what many critics maintain. It’s simply the natural progression from Jeanne Dielman and News From Home (1977).