Every once in a while, a film will come along and just leave you speechless; Ultraviolette and the Blood-Spitters Gang is that film. Showcasing both the beauty and pain of your first love, this is a remarkable piece of cinema.
After the death of his grandmother Emma, Robin Hunzinger and his mother Claudie found a carefully preserved collection of letters which Emma received from a girl called Marcelle. Marcelle and Emma met in the mid-1920s. Secretly, love blossomed between the two teenage girls, but after two years, they parted ways. Marcelle developed tuberculosis and was admitted to a sanatorium, where she wrote many letters to Emma, letters that still burn with great evocative power.
At the sanatorium, rebellious Marcelle, nicknamed ‘Ultraviolette’, led a group of three young women who were also sick. The film, told through Marcelle’s eloquent letters, combines archive footage, avant-garde films, and music to create a sensuous, poetic atmosphere of absolute love, a daring young woman ahead of her time and a group of kindred spirits which break the barrier of time.
The idea to merge archival footage and photos over the voiceover of the letters is such a wonderful one Of course, the footage isn’t of Marcelle and her group, nor of Emma, but by giving us these moments throughout the film we are able to see more into their lives and experiences during this time period. There is a carefulness to the footage selections that sweep you away, these are magnificant editing shot and editing choices from the filmmakers. The result is a film you simply cannot turn away from; you are as transfixed as you will ever be as we listen to Marcelle continually bare her soul out to Emma.
We may only ever see a few photos of Emma, Marcelle and the group of Marguerite, Hélène and Bijou. Yet by the end of the film, they will be difficult to forget thanks to Hunzingers ability to structure his story. By using moving archival footage to connect the visual dots, the Avant-Garde and quite wonderful clips we get are seriously eye opening. His film is rife with striking imagery of moments that you would never imagine being filmed from that era. Topping off these elements in Ultraviolette and the Blood-Spitters Gang is the softly spoken narrator, and excellent music choices, giving us the cherry on top of a film that amazes.
As we listen to each letter, we feel the pain that Marcelle has endured for the lack of correspondence back from Emma; you sense her isolation at every turn as she goes through this time alone; she needs something from Emma and perhaps anyone, to feel alive. She is a trapped soul in a bleak place. Emma is her first love and to be seperated from her is tearing her apart. Even when the aforementioned gang come to the sanatorium one summer, it is not enough for Marcelle, so wrapped in Emma that she lets them all know about her. Yes she now has people to confide and even try to make Emma jealous with, but they are not Emma and if anything Marcelle is like their guardian through these horrible times.
Throughout Ultraviolette and the Blood-Spitters Gang, you cannot help but be astounded by the strength in this young woman; Marcelle is seemingly unafraid of death, willing to take that risk to enjoy the moments she can, so unwilling to accept that this is her fate that she is aghast when others suggest that their own death is coming. She is also unwilling to accept the death of her and Emma’s time together. So as the film moves on we wonder and fear for this amazing woman, will she recover? Will her group survive and will Emma and Marcelle connect once more if she does become free from her prison?
We even see the strength of this woman, who we only know via pictures and words. How she fought against her condition, fought for those around her and refused to let them suffer alone. Without a doubt, she is a hero, someone who stuck resolutely to her convictions seemingly throughout her life. With this film, Robin Hunzinger honours her and those like her.
While we know the outcome of this tale on Emma’s side, the mystery of how it all wraps up keeps you engrossed. So involved are you in their journey that you have to know the outcome. There really is not much else to say about Ultraviolette and the Blood-Spitters Gang. It’s just fantastic; search for this film as soon as possible because it is something truly special.
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