Tectonic Plates

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ISAN: 0000-0000-98A8-0000-D-0000-0000-Z

Peter Mettler 1992 104'

TECTONIC PLATES is a complex and evocative voyage into the geology of human behaviour which explores, explodes and cross-fertilizes theatrical and cinematic forms.

Conceived as a continuously evolving international project, Théâtre Répère and Robert Lepage presented the play TECTONIC PLATES time and again in stunningly fresh and astonishing ways. Spawned from the images of plate tectonics, the geology of continental drift serves as a powerful metaphor for themes of merging, collision, influence, passage, developing creativity as manifest in the natural world, art world, relationships and sexuality. Mettler felt a strong kinship with the play's content and the company's fast and improvisational working method, which gave expression to multi-layered levels of a central idea. After watching the play evolve through this collective process, Mettler then wrote a filmic adaptation.

TECTONIC PLATES recalls the events and individuals that shape the life and art of the painter Madeleine. She, and aspiring art student, and the deaf-mute librarian Antoine are both unhappily in love with the art instructor Jacques. When Jacques disappears without a trace, Madeleine decides to travel from Montreal to Venice to commit suicide in this romantic place. There she meets the young heroin addict Constance. They spend the night together, and Constance lures Madeleine into her first heroin-enhanced experience and unknown erotic territory. Deeply troubled by her unresolved relationship with her father, Constance drowns herself, leaving Madeleine to continue her search for a way of life. Twenty years later, she encounters Antoine again. He has discovered that, in the meantime, Jacques has assumed a female identity as a transvestite named Jennifer. Spontaneously, Antoine travels to New York to look for Jacques/Jennifer, where his visit sets off a new series of revelations. Against the background of these associatively narrated stories, spirits of personalities of the past are relived, including Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, Jim Morrison, Oprah Winfrey, Shakespeare's Ophelia, and the Nordic goddess Skadi.

Combining original theatrical elements and cinematic invention, TECTONIC PLATES acts as a freezing in time of both the theme and process of the play. The camera takes the spectator out of the theatre seat, allowing new and different viewing perspectives. Rear projections, nearly imperceptible dissolves, and surprising superimpositions create a dense visual web uniting the fates of different characters and simultaneous events with cultural, emotional and sexual contrasts.

Peter Mettler is a visionary in the purest sense. His debut feature, The Top of His Head, was an audio-visual experience that placed him in a class of his own. An innovative adaptation of Robert Lepage's drama, Mettler offers a complex and challenging investigation of human behaviour. Martin Siberok, Montreal Mirror

Charting a course between two conventional and opposite approaches, Mettler neither opens the play up to the point of eradicating its original stage context, nor does he merely plunk the cameras down in front of a theatre performance and start shooting. The result is an intriguing and visually tantalizing collage that bridges the two media in a way that structurally underscores Lepage's themes of convergence, separation and transformation. Vit Wagner, The Toronto Star