Moroccan researcher Mohamed Noureddine Afaya addressed, in an article entitled “On the density of talking images”, a set of aspects related to Hakim Bel Abbas’s film “If He Was Overthrowing Hayout”, noting that “this director carved out a special vision of man, society and history, and a distinctive style of filming and composition, and a special style in the construction of images, scenes and sounds, and a way of expressing them, with great confidence, in the handling of their time through montage.
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Most of the films that director Hakim Bel Abbas made are presented as films inhabited by intellectual, existential, and human questions that reveal a remarkable level of contemplation and reflection through cinema on the human soul, memory reservoirs, and society. Since the first short films, among them “El Filo del Alma” (2003), “Ashreds” (2010), “She Gadi and She Gay” (2011), “A Failed Attempt to Define Love” (2012) and “The Sweat of Winter.” (2016) until his latest work, “If He Was Overthrowing Hayout”, this director carved out a special vision of man, society and history, a distinctive style in photography and installation, a special style in the construction of images, scenes and sounds, and a way to express it, with great confidence, in managing your time through montage.
Therefore, it is hard for us to believe Hakim Bel Abbas when he affirms that the films he presents are the product of a spontaneous tendency that presents the viewer without reflection or intellectual and artistic preparation; or that he treats his themes and characters with total spontaneity; For the simple reason that spontaneity, in artistic creation, has its limits and tolerates slips whose repercussions no one can foresee. Hakim Bel Abbas knows, from his experience and expertise, that in the cinema it is difficult to accept tribal spontaneity as long as his operations require starting from an idea, or a desire, or a decision; It is a thoughtful endeavor to provide the necessary technical equipment and to think in advance about your location to take pictures and choose your angles. The director can take a photo without thinking, or fix a passing shot while he handles the camera, and he can also hire non-professional actors, as happened in many of his films; However, the cinematographic work, whatever the facts of the reality presented, obviously requires visualization, will, management, imagination and intellectual and aesthetic effort.
It would be a good idea to say that Hakim Belabbas is guided more by intuition than by spontaneity. Here, the discussion takes on a different dimension; This is because intuition, as Henri Bergson defined it earlier, is not just an emotion, or an inspiration, not a vague attraction to a fact, or a direct and unmediated knowledge, but rather a carefully thought out “methodology”. thought to have rules capable of producing the exact requirements of the images. According to Bergson, intuition presupposes permanence; Rather, it comes, forcefully, in second place compared to permanence or memory. Therefore, what Hakim Bel Abbas presented in the film “If He Was Overthrowing Hayout” can be considered part of a creative path that makes memory, intuition, nostalgia, time and the mixture of reality with the imagined. an undulating theme for the chapters and parts of this film.
On the other hand, the works of Hakim Bel Abbas do not cease to confront the renewed question about the imaginary and the relationship between the documentary and the imaginary. Note that he does not differentiate them, and considers that the imagination is found in the folds of the documentary, even if it is closer to or more revealing of reality. In the film “A Failed Attempt to Define Love” and others, he was able to perfectly combine documentary and fiction, and create a cinematographic work, thanks to which he was able to create fun and profit.
In all cases, the cinematographic images that Hakim Bel Abbas refines, in most of his works, translate what is imagined, reveal its contents and address the viewer, regardless of their location and degree of attention. That’s why he tends, especially in the movie “If He Were to Overthrow Lahiout”, to touch on fragments of an evoked reality, or a present wrapped in projections of remembrance, as in some kind of staggering realization of the past. Thus, he presented human cases through the processes of weaving images and sounds, relying on the inversion of a kind of “cultural format” and a reservoir of images that allowed him to formulate a dense sense of the visual scene to the point of ambiguity sometimes. , and to highlight the social and cultural practices that Abbas insists on exhibiting and celebrating.
Hakim Belabbas used his cinematographic equipment to “capture” some aspects of humanity in his eyes as well as in his delusion, especially in his overwhelming fragility, as he presents them in “chapters” or stories of this film –and the director writes, in the beginning of the generic, which is “Stories of childhood memories in a small town”-; Where he works on the arrangement of planes, the sculpture of images and the desire to frame bodies and speeches, to express consciences, whims and diverse attitudes towards oneself, existence, society, the other, myth and the occult.
Bel Abbas was able to formulate stories that were able to show the tensions of being in its essence and appearance, life and death, presence and absence, here and there, self and other, faith and hidden, the existing and its opposite, the separated. and identical, rare joy and sustained sadness. In the “If I Was Taking Down Hayout” stories, he did not help highlight the various manifestations of these controversies; He sometimes does this by enthusiastically arranging photo clips of himself to bring out the harmony of cinematographic writing, with image and sound having a distinct position, be it speech, music or sounds incorporated; Other times, insisting on showing the paradoxes of existence and its violent contrasts, maintaining the grace of the form, the clarity of the image and the compatibility of the sound.
The image notably dominates in this film, not because it is a crossroads between the real and the imaginary or its axis; Rather, it is the founding and simultaneous act of the real, the memory and the imaginary. Thus, the director found himself looking for ways to elucidate ways to move from the phenomenological to the symbolic, and from the empirical to the abstract, and from the real to the imagined. It is as if Hakim Bel Abbas invited us to recognize that the depth of cinema is that it bears witness to existence, or rather to the misery of existence, and that this expressive tool has the necessary capacity to renew its equipment to present novels and characters, and present them in ways that constantly surprise us by presenting the stark instances of life’s melodrama.