Denis Villeneuve

7 Reasons Why “Incendies” Is Denis Villeneuve’s Overlooked Masterpiece

By Hrvoje Galić

Incendies (2010)

Denis Villeneuve’s movie “Incendies” was his cinematic breakthrough and the last film in French that he made; it earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It is based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad, a Lebanese-Canadian who, among other projects, produced a trilogy of Greek plays by Sophocles.

“Incendies” is a journey and a search for identity that is redeveloped through experiencing trauma, suffering and a recollection of the past. The narrative is mainly concerned with the search for heritage, which is radically transformed and set in an alien (for the twins) environment pointing to the alienation of identity. It is fundamentally an attempt at reconciliation and forgiveness, ending the brutality brought upon by war and violence.

The film is partly set during the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted from 1975 to 1990, claiming 120,000 lives. Although this is the setting in which the events occur and their consequences are presented, Villeneuve said the movie is essentially not about war, but about family. It deals with its confrontation with the past which needs to be rediscovered, endured and, in the end, reconciled with.

The brilliance of Villeneuve’s adaptation is in its sincere approach which is humble but far-reaching, since it deals with the fundamental questions about nature of existence and coexistence of human beings in a violent environment, and the consequences of one’s actions for the generations to come.

“Incendies” is a film that is also a plea for communion, peace and forgiveness among human beings. A cross can be seen both in the soldiers and in close-ups on other occasions. This shows the twofold nature of the human condition; ideas can be used to promote both peace and violence, and Villeneuve presents us with a horrendous story that, nevertheless, opens up a possibility for living together peacefully → continue…

From:: Taste Of Cinema