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Werner Schroeter's rhapsody of excess leaps from 1949 Cuba to contemporary France to points in between, while its feverishly shifting visual style evokes and parodies everything from kitschy Mexican telenovelas to silent French art films.
Received as the revelation of the recent Schroeter retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Flocons d'or elaborates a four-part narrative whose settings leap from 1949 Cuba to a railroad yard in contemporary France, and whose visual style interleaves spectral black and white and hazily overlit colour, parodying along the way everything from kitschy Mexican telenovelas to French art films of the twenties. In this overripe rhapsody of orchids and cockatoos, the stars prevail: a zaftig, marcel-haired Andréa Ferréol gambols erotically with three dogs and recites Poe's "The Raven"; Magdalena Montezuma sports a glittery headdress to lip synch the Marseillaise, a peach shantung suit to greet her long-lost sister, and inky plumage to incarnate an angel of death; Bulle Ogier loiters in slick-backed hair as "The Murderous Soul"; and Udo Kier carries a flower into the forest, like Schroeter's hero Novalis, before repeatedly bashing his head into a rock. Ogier, who has acted in countless masterpieces, claimed that "the sequence in black and white was the most beautiful thing I ever did in cinema. Werner was able to unveil a kind of fragility, a delicate transparency, in me. So too with Andréa Ferréol, who was never more luscious, sexy, or Renoiresque."