Charles mort ou vif

(Charles, Dead or Alive)

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

Chosen by Raphaël Dubach and Mateo Ybarra.

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


Sylvia Bachmann


Jacques Olivier


Alain Tanner


Groupe 5

Télévision Suisse Romande (TSR)

International sales

Association Alain Tanner (AAT)


Cinémathèque suisse

Related biographie(s)