In 2000, the acclaimed Belgian director Akerman was asked to adapt Marcel Proust’s “La Prisonniere”; her extraordinary film La Captive was the result. We feature here a 100-frame sequence of stills from the midpoint of the film, when the two protagonists, Simon and Ariane, take a meandering walk in the park. In her introductory essay, critic Amy Taubin claims the sequence not only distills the essence of film (and novel), but also references Akerman’s recurrent existential theme: “The impossible desire for symbiosis—to merge the self with the beloved, a desire doomed to failure because it cannot tolerate the freedom of the other to have desires of her own.”
Chantal Akerman (1950–2015) is widely considered to be one of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century. Her 1975 film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles has been hailed as a cinematic masterpiece as well as a feminist landmark. Akerman finished her first film, Saute ma Ville, at the age of 18; she went on to make more than 40 others, including Les années 80 (1983), D’Est (1993), Un divan à New York (1996), and Demain on déménage (2004). Akerman, who was originally from Belgium, lived and worked in Paris.
Amy Taubin is a writer and contributing editor at Film Comment and Sight and Sound and was a film critic for The Village Voice from 1987 to 2001. She is also the author of a BFI Film Classics volume on Taxi Driver. As an actor, Taubin has appeared in films directed by Andy Warhol and Michael Snow; she played Sandy in the 1968 Broadway production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.