Charles mort ou vif

(Charles, Dead or Alive)

A Journey in the Festival’s History

Switzerland  ·  1969  ·  DCP 4K  ·  Black and White  ·  94'  ·  o.v. French

Chosen by Raphaël Dubach and Mateo Ybarra.
On Demand

5-15 | 8 | 2020  ·  Sub. German

Disponibile in Svizzera – Available in Switzerland

On Demand

5-15 | 8 | 2020

Available on MUBI for the international audience: film availability varies depending on your location


Saturday 8 | 8 | 2020, 18:00  ·  GranRex  ·  Sub. German


Sunday 9 | 8 | 2020, 10:00  ·  GranRex  ·  Sub. German


Monday 10 | 8 | 2020, 12:45  ·  GranRex  ·  Sub. German

Following a television interview in which he declares his dissatisfaction, the industrialist Charles Dé leaves his watch factory and disappears in search of a new life, free from the constraints of family and society, in the wake of the 1968 protests. The showpiece of New Swiss Cinema, the film is suspended between irreverence and existential dismay, capable of interweaving the awareness of false illusions with an ironic interpretation of American-style savage capitalism. It screened in La Semaine de la Critique in Cannes in 1969, and won the Pardo d’oro in Locarno the same year.

Selected by Raphaël Dubach and Mateo Ybarra
Directors of LUX

"I feel as though I’m wrapped in cotton wool. With no real anxieties. With no hope. Locked up in comfort and safety.” Charles Dé is the head of an important, austere family business. On the day of the company’s 100th anniversary, he realizes his bourgeois, capitalistic lifestyle is the polar opposite of his erstwhile passions. In the midst of an existential thunderstorm, he decides to break completely with this universe and live on the edge. He then encounters Paul and Adeline, a bohemian couple with whom he shares a free-spirited existence in the Geneva countryside. Tanner’s film has the energy and strength, but also the fragility of a debut film. Renato Berta’s cinematography is raw; François Simon’s performance is jarring. Most of all, though, Charles, Dead or Alive is a cinematic manifesto, with the energy of May ’68, where one dreams of Lake Geneva becoming a harbor as dark as coal, with black barges, where a car is launched from the heights of a gravel quarry; where one expresses their malcontent by spitting potatoes; where Swiss prosperity is criticized in a school poem. In paving the way for new Swiss cinema with sensitivity and irony, Alain Tanner described the sparkling energy of a time period where everything had to be deconstructed. Therein certainly lies the affection we have for this film and for Tanner’s work: poetry as an act of subversion.

– Mateo Ybarra & Raphaël Dubach




Alain Tanner


François Simon, Marie-Claire Dufour, André Schmidt, Maya Simon, Marcel Robert


Renato Berta


Jacques Olivier


Alain Tanner


Sylvia Bachmann


Groupe 5

Télévision Suisse Romande (TSR)

World Sales

Association Alain Tanner (AAT)


Cinémathèque suisse

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