Fraulein Julie is possible one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen; if it can be catalogued as such. Filmed on the stage and projected on the screen, this adaptation of the classic can be considered theatre, film or both. The preciseness and artistry required to recreate the atmosphere of the house, the correct lighting states and to be able to film it live, with no cuts, but flawlessly and smoothly is incredible. The intimacy and closeness of the shots brought us into the world of Kristin, blatantly ignored in the original version of the play. We see her through different eyes this time, as a strong, devoted woman, in love with Jean but with dreams and aspirations of her own. The ultra-naturalistic film setting capturess every action and turns it into an almost -religious rite: unbuttoning a shirt, a shaving knife smoothing the skin, pressing flowers into a bible... And this sense of extreme intimacy couldn't be achieved without the achingly precise sounds, all produced live on stage using all kinds of objects. The cello placed on stage also creates a strikingly beautiful image.
As much as I loved the performance, it makes me think about how far can you go with a piece of theatre before it looses its "theatricality. I guess it depends on each person's idea of what theatre is and what they expect when they go into one. It could be argued that Fraulen Julie is more a film than it is theatre; the story is told through the screen proyection and the built set, sound booth and folli table are there to support the live filming of the action. It can also be said it is theatre because the product is made there and then, in front of your eyes; it has the ephemeral quality of theatre and the play within it: despite all technicalities and mechanical movements that are required to make the piece work, the performance is bound to be slightly different every night.
I don't find the need to strictly define Fraulein Julie as theatre or film. I think it is intrinsically both. And it wouldn't work without one element or the other. I admire it and take it in for what it communicates: intimate and elemental emotions of the human beings reflected through the simplest of movements. The devil is on the details.
Fraulein Julie is on at the Barbican until 4th of May