Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Zone reviews “FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions”

Paul Higson reviews “FAQ: Frequenlty Asked Questions” for The Zone:

“Before Star Wars, before the space opera overcame, there was an exciting and obscure strand of science fiction. Much of it rose out of Europe, particularly France, and stayed there, largely overlooked, surreal, pretentious or intelligent but distant, some if not all of the above. To France it is then for Spanish filmmaker Carlos Atanes, with his digital science fiction feature debut FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions, not only adopting the locations but also the language. The only spoken Spanish in the film comes from a single interloping character (Manuel Solas), from the ‘Iberian department,’ an appropriately macho resistance (if, oddly, a clown in his original profession) in a society dominated by women.

The Parisian population is subjected to a tannoy delivered doctrine of dehumanisation. “You do not need to trouble your thoughts/ Failure would be inevitable/ Avoid Physical Contact/ You do not need to remember the past/ Failure would be inevitable.” This is nothing new. We have had envisioned before time and again controlling regimes in science fiction, many made the more chilling by their approximation to the possible. It has been some time since we had a future unreality that was this detailed in defiance of its budget. A fair comparison to Atanes’ endeavour might be George Lucas’ THX-1138. The structure of this neo-future is not complete, as a feature-length running time would never allow that, so the filmmaker must suggest it in a constantly fresh barrage given the time available. He exploits the minutes well. There is a rare intelligence here and everything has undergone careful consideration. There is no ‘Hello’ or ‘Good day’, the greeting, even among the ruling classes, is “A life of sacrifice!” Milk is the popular drink, a nod to eugenics, and long hair, girls, is fine, just heaven help you if you allow it free of a tying back.”


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More info about Carlos Atanes films at

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