The Super 8 Years DVD Review: A Remembrance of the Past

Films can be meditative and self-reflecting, meaning they can come from one’s own experience (internal or external). This can also apply to the subject of home movies, which can reveal subtle and sometimes more darker elements and themes than what’s actually shown. French writer and Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux and her son David Ernaux-Briot’s The Super 8 Years, their miniature but logically expansive portrait of shared memory, beautifully does just that.

Narrated (and written) by Annie herself, viewers watch and witness her family’s travels from Morocco to Moscow from 1972 to 1981, which were documented by her late ex-husband Phillippe with a Super 8 camera. There’s lots of footage of her and her two then-young sons, Eric and David (who directed the film years later), enjoying the holidays and dabbling in family rituals. Everything looks normal, but there’s despair and distress underneath.

The more the running time wears on, so does the unraveling of the family’s dilemmas as does Annie’s writer’s block and inner turmoil. The film, which rather and ostensibly looks like it could be anyone’s home movies, becomes more of a reflection and a remembrance of the past. This is where the sadness and reality really sinks in because she knows quite well that these moments of happiness and tranquility will never exist again and that this event will forever change her life.

This is a quietly devastating and vivid cinematic experiment that may turn off many people, whether it will open old wounds for them, or that they’ll find it boring. As for me, I found it fascinating and relatable. I love films like these because they help you reflect on your own life and show how the past can shape who you are and make you wonder what the future will be like as you progress, mentally, intellectually and emotionally.

Special features consist of a theatrical trailer and an interview/Q&A with the Ernauxs (courtesy of Film at Lincoln Center and New York Film Festival).

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