Fleas, like the Swiss, operate a risky balancing act of neutrality: in part this political comedy of the absurd revolves around the problems of radical action in that stolid, prosperous, complacent country. After losing his flea circus in a pesticide accident, Ottocaro Weiss (Simon) tries to seek compensation from the authorities, undergoes a ritual death during an anniversary ceremony for the plague, and rises again, with two assistants and a mysterious financial backer, to unleash his theatre of the plague upon the public. Starkly comic and distanced, the film explores the symbolic significances of this theatre from various perspectives, wryly noting the paradoxes thrown up and how polar arguments often in fact overlap: ideas are as infectious as diseases. And until the final scene, Weiss,' dreams of a new political liberty are part of a terrifying grand design of which he knows nothing. In that sense, the film seems to offer little hope, the humour of the first half a reflex action against what is to come.
Cast and crew