Father of Swiss authors dies: Alan Tanner leaves country
Geneva director and screenwriter Alan Tanner has passed away at the age of 93. Without him, Swiss film would not be what it is today.
Silence reigned around him for a long time, a calm that did not bode well. It’s been nearly twenty years since Geneva-based director and screenwriter Alan Tanner spoke about his last feature film. It was called ‘Paul s’en va’, and even if you don’t want to read the title programmatically, or prophetic, it still sounds: Someone was talking about his being through his cinematic commentary – at the time, in Switzerland, in the mental state of the Situation Generation private of life.
The man in Paul s’en va loses his sense of belonging. Paul, a teacher, struggles with his time (2004) more than his time. So he leaves his school class without warning and disappears. This teacher, someone on a mission, someone who once understood how the world works, sees himself outside the job: Paul’s drama was Alan Tanner’s, written and tested by himself.
Tanner’s most famous films with pictures:
Start with sharp arguments
He made a great start: with his first feature film “Charles mort ou vif” (1969), young Alain attracted the attention of world cinema and immediately won the Golden Leopard in Locarno, so to speak. Later the gun applauded and Kahn was. Even the United States recognized and respected the cold director with critical social intent.
His protagonist Charles and his hero Paul, thirty years later, are made of the same dramatic things. If Paul was a teacher, Charles was a watchmaker. He also leaves the predetermined path, the villa, the family and retires to the country. There is his unkind ending, the son will disable him. Alan Tanner was the voice of those people who felt socially uncomfortable in capitalism and came to their own conclusions. In the world of European cinema, his works represent years from 1986, to new beginnings, to the new film, the author’s film.
Searching for a new social utopia
In Alain Tanner, people politicize at the kitchen table, shamelessly smoke Gauloises bleu (the box for 1.90 francs), and supermarket cashiers charge only half of the poor. Audiences of the ’60s and ’70s, when the world was divided into friend and foe, realized their yearning for change in Tanner’s characters.
After early rhetoric and primarily political beacons of hope, some calm – or reticence – seemed to emerge in the 1980s. How else would you explain the fact that he spent so much time touring Lisbon with the beautiful young man Bruno Ganz in “Dans la ville blanche” (1983)? But there seems to be a little Alain Tanner in the character of the observer: Bruno Ganz played a sailor.
But unlike his peers, Tanner never felt like a Swiss (or more French, like Jean-Luc Godard) filmmaker. In Paris he tried Nouvelle Vague, at the Film Institute of London and his job in the Merchant Navy.
Not Swiss, but citizens of the world
After returning from London, he made his first documentaries for French-speaking Swiss television. This kind of fantasy only began to interest him when the political upheavals of 1968 also affected Switzerland. The director seemed to suspect that political and social reality can only be dealt with through imagination.
Alan Tanner’s films talked about dropouts, dropouts, and social evaders. On September 11 he also changed the world, he was 93 years old.