“The Super 8 Years” (Kanopy)

Reviewer: Lynn Gonzalez Doupe Lynn and I have been friends since the late 60’s, the era in which “Super 8” was filmed. A former French teacher and librarian who lived in Chile through the build-up to the coup d’etat she is especially qualified to review the film. Ernaux’s book The Years, a kind of companion piece to the film, has received attention because of her recent Nobel Prize award.

Those of us born in the forties, will remember the ubiquitous super 8 camera, used to chronicle family gatherings and special events.  

In collaboration with her son, David Ernaux-Briot, Annie Ernaux reclaims seventeen years of married life, carefully documented in Super 8 reels by her then-husband, Philippe Ernaux. Her exquisite (almost surgical) precision as sole narrator of these years, over which she now presides, is that of an aloof observer, rather than as a participant.  She refers to her former husband, now deceased, and father of her two sons, as “Philippe Ernaux”, a subtle, but perhaps not so subtle tool of control.

Through the documentation of many family trips to other countries on the brink of change, and also within France itself, from Allende’s Chile and Albania to the pre-urban sprawl, “Eden-like” countryside in the Ardeche, there is a sense of nostalgia for what is no longer. 

What is left unsaid leaves the viewer unable to form natural conclusions, which is undoubtedly, purposeful, but at times, seems voyeuristic. Ernaux’s powerful control of language is used, without words, to nullify her former husband.

“The Super Eight Years” documents, both as a personal (albeit one-sidedly so),  and historical
bell-weather.

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