In his sublime new documentary, Alexandre O. Philippe analyzes the myth of Monument Valley.
The team behind EXHIBIT A — producer Kerry Deignan Roy, cinematographer Robert Muratore, and director Alexandre O. Philippe — made a name for itself by producing documentaries about pop culture, going deep into the analysis of specific movies and scenes, looking at how myth influences society. From THE PEOPLE VS GEORGE LUCAS to LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST, Franco-Swiss director Philippe displays an uncanny knowledge and an unquenched curiosity about culture and arts. Although he knows what his documentary will look like before even starting, the result always gets larger than the original idea. His brain never stops working, and new angles and ideas are mapped out during the entire production process.
THE TAKING (originally titled THE VALLEY) started as a documentary about Monument Valley and its place in cinema. What Philippe delivers is so much more, delving into the roots of what America is today. Monument Valley may be a tourist attraction for many, but it is a place of pain and grief for others, something too often forgotten and intentionally omitted. John Ford, a man of few words, is probably the film director who most used Monument Valley in westerns, featuring the iconic landscape not just as a backdrop but as a character with a story of its own.
By choosing to create the entire film from clips without the experts appearing on screen, only using voice recordings, Philippe manages an incredible tour de force. The interviews are so powerful and meaningful, and the choice of clips so relevant, that you are pulled into an incredible lesson about cinema, appropriation, and the myth of places and American History without it being didactic. In my personal opinion, this is Philippe’s best documentary to date, and no one will leave the theater indifferent. (ANNICK MAHNERT)
Closed Captions [CC]