On social critique: Les Barbares


Jean-Gabriel Périot’s Les Barbares is a cinematic essay that stalls in the obscure political ambience we are living in and mostly perceive throughout the media. Based on press images, he tries to unveil the thread we perceive everyday from political institutions but that we usually try not to hear: if we don’t comply with the system, we’ll become barbarians.

Périot describes his work as political in a profound sense. He doesn’t refer to any particular sort of militancy, but to a more essential question: with all the social turbulences happening now, how can we still live together as a community?

The hundreds of images contained in Les Barbares -all taken from the press or Internet- give us some hints. Using a particular editing style based on an accelerating stream of still pictures, the film creates a language that inquires the idea of institutional order and social resistance. By contrasting institutional images of families, high school students and sport teams with individual pictures of people demonstrating in the streets, the film shows the decision we must take if we want to exercise our discontent as civilians: to combat big institutions has become so complicated that the have lost our faith in the system. By opposing we can break the pattern, just like the images of demonstration do in the film.

Les Barbares is not a film that calls for a solution to the current problems in western society. However it is direct and somewhat pedagogic in the way it describes the social situation: institutions want us to believe that breaking the order they have established is not a civilized way of political dialogue. They might call us barbarians, but that is in fact nothing more than a strategy for their own protection.


By Pablo Carrera
Instant cinema, 2011