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La Bête lumineuse

(The Shimmering Beast)

Year: 1982
Language: French
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 127 min
Director: Pierre Perrault
Producer: Jacques Bobet
Cinematographer: Martin Leclerc
Editor: Suzanne Allard
Sound: Yves Gendron
Cast: Maurice Chaillot, Bernard L'Heureux, Michel Guyot, Louis-Philippe Lécuyer, Stéphane-Albert Boulais
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

Pierre Perrault’s documentary, which screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the Festival de Cannes, follows nine men on a week-long hunting trip in rural Quebec. The film charts the social dynamics of this diverse group and how the men relate to each other, alternately revealing and disguising their feelings. One among them – an earnest, philosophical teacher and poet – is so out of place, he soon becomes an even more pathetic victim of testosterone-driven persecution than the moose the men have come to kill.

Perrault, the legendary Québécois poet, filmmaker and anthropologist, suggests in La BLte lumineuse that there is a fundamentally ugly component in male bonding – something that makes sport of attacking anyone who refuses to play by the rules. The film was the subject of much critical interest. Janice L. Pallister, writing in The Cinema of Quebec, notes what she calls the film’s "transfiguration," explaining that the "urbanized, city types are the savages. They find again the violence of their primal senses through this hunt: they get in touch with their senses, with their contradictory emotions of cruelty and tenderness." For Peter Harcourt (from his essay in Take Two: A Tribute to Film in Canada), the film suggests the typically Canadian fear that "the land one turns to for redemption may not return the gesture; and that the seeker of truths... can... become the hunted."