One October evening1, the Esplanade des Quinconces underwent an abrupt changeover of seasons. There was no wind and the surroundings seemed quasi-forgotten by the weather. Only the trees challenged the complete stillness, quivering in different places as if tickled from within. Under the thick autumnal foliage, scores of formicating swallows seemed to have lost track of time, lured by the unusual mildness and a generous bounty of leftovers from the café terraces beneath the trees.
A sudden bang of fireworks prompted a whirlwind of wings flapping and fluttering – an explosion of swallows took flight from the trees all at once. In their rush, the entire foliage was quaked so thoroughly that in the space of four minutes, three months of autumn had been fast-forwarded. The brown leaves reached the ground first, while the yellow ones – like closing credits – drifted for longer in the air, soliloquizing the first consonant of winter.
… why do we always keep the windows closed? Isn’t it amazing, at home there’s still snow and ice and here … look at the birds. I always felt a little hurt that our swallows deserted us in the winter for capitalistic countries. Now I know why. We have the high ideals, but they have the climate. (excerpt from Ninotschka)
Il arrive que la réalité soit trop complexe pour la transmission orale. La légende la recrée sous une forme qui lui permet de courir le monde. Il était 24:17, heures océaniques, quand j’arrivais dans les faubourgs d’Alphaville3. (excerpt from Alphaville)
Why the Lion Roars is a composition of feature films that communicate through a feeling for temperature. Each of the fifty-seven selected films represents specifically defined degrees, from minus 11°C to 45°C. A thermometer measures the temperature outside the projection space and simultaneously edits the film programme, which changes in correspondence with the actual outdoor temperature. The commotions of weather dictate the films’ narrative. At the exact moment of an increase or decrease in temperature, each film is interrupted and replaced by another, provoking an unplanned collision of meaning – the films hibernate until their “season” comes.
Why the Lion Roars plays Chinese whispers with film. Some are seen as fragments as the temperature fluctuates wildly in the morning while other films are projected in the whole or even loop as the temperature stabilizes later in the day. Endlessly edited by the fluctuation of weather, Why the Lion Roars trusts to climatic chance its unique convergence of fiction. A found future perpetually unsettles the present at its own discretion.
This forecast journal from the year 2009 is based on the weather in Paris4. A colour is assigned to each film: either one that has been singled out from a key scene or a colour remnant of filmic memory.
Why the Lion Roars is the temperature-cut version of a fiction based on a true story: the weather.
Anri Sala, 2010
2 An example of a “weather-cut” from October 10th, 2009 of Why the Lion Roars.
3 “Sometimes reality is too complex for oral communication. But legend embodies it in a form, which enables it to spread all over the world. It was 24:17 Oceanic Time, when I approached the suburbs of Alphaville.”
4 Why the Lion Roars opened at Centquatre in Paris in October 2008. During September 2009, it was presented at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.