Jean Beaudin (b. 1939)
Vertige (1969)
Director: Jean Beaudin
Year: 1969
Time: 41 mins
Music: Serge Garant

Many films were produced in the 60s, both emic and etic, documenting the violent and sometimes silly ideological revolutions that swept Western middle-class youngsters of the time, producing a fascinating an apparently endless vault of cinematic experimentation and increasingly conventional audiovisual tropes. Far more interesting, for instance, than The Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda, is Jean Beaudin's debut work Vertige. Though its point is somewhat vague, it is both visually and sonically one of the most compelling exercises in the tradition of lysergic films of the 60s. Sympathetic but subtly critical, Vertige presents itself as a psychological portrait of the escape and/or contestation tactics of the decade's youth: while war, violence, famine and poverty continue to devastate the planet, these youngsters seek refuge in the hedonistic haven of sexual liberation, lysergic research and communal fictions. Richly textured visuals and bold scenic montage are some of the key elements in Vertige, but it is Serge Garant's fine contemporary soundtrack, and its intimate rapport with the scenic rhythms, that catapult the film beyond the conventions of psychedelic cinema. Famed as a pioneer of contemporary music in Canada, Garant provides am eclectic score that ranges from atonal symphonic exercises to psych-rock, concrète and electroacoustic soundscapes. Such diverse approaches, and their powerful connections with the screen, give Vertige a highly nuanced and refined cadence, and render it one of the finest and most compelling examples of the genre.