“Titanium” and the politics of dance
Titanium is a complex film, which does not hold back in its portrayal of unconditional love. The bold and at times intense imagery of the human body exhibited in the film is an unwavering / uncompromising vision. This is the vision of the director, Julia Ducournau. Critically acclaimed and even winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Titanium finally had its US premiere at the Fantastic Fest Film Festival. This is where I had the pleasure of seeing the film for the first time. Ducournau made an appearance before and after the films were shown and answered questions from the audience. Some of the topics covered after the film’s screening included: parenthood, humanity and femininity of the infamous car from the film.
One discussion that stood out to me, and which I found particularly passionate, was the concept of dance and the dance scenes in the film itself. See, while Titanium has a lot of bold and shocking imagery, there are just as many scenes that feature dance sequences. Ranging from intense to very intimate, dance occupies an important place in the film. Any scene in Titanium who danced seems to have enormous significance for the development of our characters in this story, especially the two protagonists in the film.
Each dance scene is individually spellbinding and even sometimes intoxicating in its own right. From the start of the auto show to the other dance scenes scattered throughout the film. They are fascinating in their lighting, choreography and camera work. Several dance scenes take place with the same group of people; it’s a group of firefighters with whom Alexia takes shelter at one point in the film. Dancing isn’t because it’s something firefighters love to do, director Julia Ducournau said after the film’s screening. Rather, it is an outlet for men to release pent-up anger, emotions and energy.
Dance in Titanium is also symbolic of people-to-people relations in the film. Throughout the story, Alexia (Agathe Rousselle) and Vincent (Vincent Lindon) have a complicated and strange relationship. Alexia refuses to have a dialogue with him most of the time, which leads to their relationship being expressed through a physical confrontation.
It is no wonder that Ducournau relied on dance to express important emotional rhythms. Vincent tries to get Alexia to open up and express her own vulnerability, with a dance as the first big fight. Plus, it’s an intense interaction with Alexia that doesn’t make it vulnerable. In a later scene, which is a fascinating and beautifully shot sequence, the firefighters are softened and dance together in a club.
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It is in this sequence that Vincent softens with his lower rank companions. His character, again vulnerable, is forced to face a harsh reality. That being his relationship with Alexia, something I won’t go into detail here in this report. Finally, another dance scene at the same club shows Alexia the same vulnerability Vincent showed her, forming a bond of trust. The fact that all of this translates into a series of beautifully shot dance scenes is honestly amazing.
Titanium, as said at the beginning of this feature, has a lot to do. The film is a layered work of art that isn’t for everyone. Ducournau et Cie. took a bold and shocking story and used it to show a level of vulnerability and compassion not quite seen in his previous work, Raw. The most intriguing part for me, personally, is that a movie that has such shocking and sometimes disturbing images as this one is so vulnerable. Also, that this vulnerability results in something like To dance.
Dance is at the heart of some of titanium most fascinating and powerful character moments. There is a beauty in the movements and the development of the speechless character that the film captures so perfectly, that I think it’s something worth watching, if only to watch a few firefighters move about. with. – Ernesto Valenzuela