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Barbet Schroeder
1969 || 117 mins

Stefan (Klaus Grunberg), a German college graduate, hitchhikes to Paris where he falls in with small-time hustler, Charlie (Michel Chanderli), who takes him to a party where he first encounters carefree American, Estelle (Mimsy Farmer). Despite being warned to stay away from her by his friend, Stefan is immediately smitten. After carrying out a burglary to raise some easy money, he goes to see Estelle and they begin a casual affair. Estelle turns him on to the joys of smoking weed, and reveals to him that she used to be a heroin user.  After a night together, she informs him she is leaving for the island of Ibiza and suggests he might to join her there if he wants. Stefan flies down a few days later and, while looking for Estelle, meets local big shot Dr. Wolf (Heinz Engelmann), an ex-Nazi with more than a little interest in the American girl himself. Stefan persuades Estelle to cut loose from the doctor, and together they split for the other side of the island where they indulge in sex, drugs and other hedonistic pleasures. The fun soon fades however, when Estelle starts taking heroin again and convinces Stefan to try it for himself.

see also articles on:
Top 10 Films by Lesser Known Directors || Barbet Schroeder Profile || French New Wave History || French New Wave Film Guide

Although dismissed by some critics as an over-indulgent celebration of drug-taking, More in fact proves to be anything but an endorsement of substance abuse. Stefan’s descent from naïve student to hopeless junkie might start out as a thrill-ride but ultimately it ends in a bleak and dusty cemetery. Like Icarus, he flies higher and higher but fails to see the dangers of the sun and comes crashing down to Earth. In this case the sun is a beautiful young woman and the intoxicating new sensations she has to offer. The “turn on, tune in, drop out” generation is portrayed as feckless and amoral (“Are you honest?” Charlie asks Stefan. “So, so… and you?” “Like you… so, so.”), and Ibiza is one its epicentres. “The island is full of strange people coming and going, no one knows where,” Dr. Wolf tells Stefan when he first arrives. It’s a seductive setting that seems to offer a free and easy lifestyle but under the surface the same ruthless rules apply.

By the time he directed More, his debut feature film, Barbet Schroeder had already been a key player in the New Wave for some years. In his early twenties he produced Eric Rohmer’s cycle of “Six Moral Tales” as well as the compendium film Paris vu par… (1965). The movement’s influence on him is certainly apparent in the film’s rambling tempo, voice-over narration and scenes of freewheeling euphoria, but at the same time, Schroeder keeps his distance, maintaining an objective tone that will become a hallmark of his style in later years. He avoids getting carried away with kaleidoscopic lenses and incoherent montages, instead opting for a detached realism, not least in the graphic scenes of drug preparation which were originally cut by the censor but have now been restored.

More was a hit in Europe when released and has remained a cult favourite, not least because of Pink Floyd’s soundtrack written especially for the film. Their music, when combined with ace cinematographer Nestor Almendros’s ravishing visuals, lends the film an epic, sometimes even mythic quality, which offsets the sometimes rather flat acting on show. Memorable shots such as Stefan sitting on the stern railing of the boat taking him to Ibiza as the white waves churn around him, or the couple sitting chanting on a mountain top, as the sun rises on the horizon are ultimately what most remains in the memory after the film is over.

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