Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
1001 Grams: Lighter than it Sounds
dealers will tell you the weight of kilos can vary quite considerably.
Scientists also suspect this is true, but they must prove it with data. Towards
that end, Marie Ernst will be lugging the Norwegian prototype kilo to a
conference in Paris, where a new international standard will hopefully be set.
With her life at a crossroads, the trip might just offer an opportunity for
personal discovery as well in Bent Hamer’s 1001
which opens this Friday in New York.
day-to-day responsibilities largely entail certifying various public pumps and
scales to ensure the measurements are on the up-and-up. It is the sort of
solitary detail-oriented work she seems to be well suited for. Having recently
divorced her caddish husband, she has no real social life to speak of. Aside
from her father Ernst Ernst, the director of the laboratory, Marie Ernst has
little meaningful human contact. When her more garrulous father falls ill, she
assumes his place at the Paris conference, where there are plenty aloof delegates
quite like her. However, the institute has a surprisingly smart and engaging
gardener named Pi (an unmeasurable constant, you see), whose company she finds
Ernst will have to deal with some family business before she can finally take
control over her own life. Worse still, she has a mishap with the Norwegian
national kilo. In isolation, all the fuss over a weight in a bell jar seems rather
ridiculous, but Hamer makes the characters’ passion for precision measurement
look like a noble eccentricity.
a filmmaker, Hamer is one of the few stylists who can rival the whimsical
visuals of Wes Anderson and even Jacques Tati. Frame after frame in 1001 Grams has such a strikingly
composed look, one wonders how long it took Hamer to artfully arrange each
scene. There is always the danger that sort of self-consciously idiosyncratic
approach can descend into overly precious quirkiness. However, 1001 Grams is permeated with such maturity
and grace, it never becomes cloying or shticky in any manner.
Dahl Torp plays Ernst with a profoundly Scandinavian reserve, but the way she
slowly and subtly expresses her stirrings of an emotional awakening is
beautiful to behold. Laurent Stocker of the Comédie Française comes across like
a nice earthy chap as Pi, while Stein Winge adds gravity and humanity as old
Ernst Ernst, but Torp must quietly carry 1001
Grams for long stretches on her own. It is a feat she repeatedly pulls off
There are numerous references, analogies, and
call-backs revolving around the act of measurement that could have been absolutely
grating in the hands of another filmmaker. Yet, Hamer makes them feel effortlessly
light. He fluidly guides the pieces together into a seamless whole. A truly
lovely film, 1001 Grams is highly recommended
for general audiences when it opens this Friday (5/8) in New York, at the
Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
Labels: Bent Hamer, Scandinavian Cinema