Based on the experience of political kidnappee Françoise Claustre, Depardon's rigorously understated film is short on event but long on presence. The story is rudimentary - a woman lives in captivity with a desert tribe, makes a desultory escape attempt, and is finally released - but the film is extraordinary in its ability to evoke her experience, with its total dislocation of space and time, and above all its fundamental monotony. The image of the desert here is worlds apart from the spuriously mystical dunescape of The Sheltering Sky. Depardon's own photography depicts a very material place with its own timetable and demands, the wilderness unfolding prosaically across the screen like some austere colour-field canvas. Acquainting us intimately with the life of the tribe, but without ever coming across as an ethnological document, the film's observation of minutiae is quite transfixing.
La Captive du Désert
Cast and crew