Christoph has stopped at Locarno
Can you film a man with ideals antithetical to yours without reducing him to a caricature or making him a hero, even one painted in dark colours? Can you film without capturing an image or letting yourself be captured by it? L’Expérience Blocher recounts this challenge; at the same time both tracing the trajectory of the controversial Swiss political leader – known for his anti-European positions – and investigating a country often split in two over this man.
In 2003 Jean-Stéphane Bron made another documentary which followed the passage of a law and offered an insight into the rules that govern Swiss democracy. Concentrated in just a few rooms, Mais im Bundeshuus – le génie helvétique told of the plurality of a democracy that almost seems to want to hide secrets.
L’Expérience Blocher is the result of an opposite movement: a funnel-like film in which the variety of places and types of meetings (public, private, informal, formal) is channelled into one single figure. Filmed almost entirely outside the parliament rooms, in the company of Blocher’s silent and charismatic wife, Blocher seems more of a businessman than a politician. He is the one who dictates the rules, the timings, the methods and the contents of the film. Bron follows his character, apparently yielding to him, except then using a classic solution (off-screen narration) to reposition him in respect to the images. Not so much to rebalance them, but to give them their natural ambiguity, as the narrating voice does not lead the narrative but breaks it up, analyses it, calls it into question. Ten years have passed in Switzerland, in Europe and the world, and the enjoyable comedy about parliament seems to have been overturned into a film noir.