I use the wide image of the title here because, like the other films I’ve done this with, there seems to be no real poster available for it, and again like the others, I can understand why. Mediterranee, the Book argues, had an important and lasting influence on filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, and his film Contempt. Having not seen that film yet, I can’t begin to understand how, and indeed, I can’t even begin to understand how this film could, well… anything, but especially influence anyone. The film is basically a series of artful shots of the various landscapes, artifacts, and scenery found in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, coupled with the occasional wisp of narrative dialogue and some rather lovely music. I can only guess that it seeks to capture and preserve an era of a location that will soon be long since gone by, as I see no other use this film could particularly serve.
Not to get down on Mediterranee, because it is very beautifully shot, and the shots themselves, with the camera positions and movement, are extremely artistic, and thus very nice to behold. But that would be the only real reason to watch this film, even at the mere 45 minutes that it is. It’s not quite a documentary, but it is definitely not a fiction film, that’s for sure. Really, to call this an experimental film is to do that label justice; it is reserved for those types of films that utterly and inconsequentially defy labels, and Mediterranee is just such a film.
Should you see this? If you’re into very pretty camerawork and images, and got at least something out of Deseret or Too Early, Too Late, and you want something a little more oblique, sure; knock yourself out. For the rest of the populace that wants trivial things in their films like narrative or character, this will be as solid as concrete as you could hope to whack your head against. Now, I won’t say the film doesn’t have depth, or expression, because it does; it is still trying to say something amid all the supposedly incongruous, but good luck finding out what that may be outside a Criterion essay. For what it’s worth, I liked this a little bit, just cause it was nice to look at, but if I were to try and stretch that into any other potential reason that this could be called good, let alone a masterpiece, I’d be doing exactly that: stretching.
Arbitrary Rating: 5/10