The Shock of the Future [Le choc du futur] (2019)
Directed by Marc Collin
What do you know about the birth of electronic music? Can you remember when guitarists, bassists, drummers and singers were shoved aside to make way for synthesizers at the end of the 70s? Don’t worry if you can’t because director Marc Collin has embodied that cultural shift over the course of a day in the life of young musician Ana. Ana, played by a superb Alma Jodorowsky, is looking to find her unique sound in a male-dominated industry. Through endless interactions with her electronic gadgets she challenges the norm. She is tired of the same old music and is enticed by the wonderful electronic records that have begun to find their way across the water from Sheffield, England to the heart of Paris.
Shot almost exclusively in Alma’s flat, Marc Collin takes care to ensure that it never feels claustrophobic or depressing. Rather, the contained space acts as a creative hub where any and all things are possible. The space represents focus, not distraction. A focus that Alma is extremely committed to. Music is so important to her. Not the jingles that she’s been commissioned to write. Not the basic chord progressions that anyone could come up with. She is looking for a new sound (Mighty Boosh lovers rejoice!). Her dedication can be seen from the moment she wakes up to the sound of the radio, plunging her hand into a pile of cassette tapes, dancing to exciting and new vinyl records suggested by her friend and of course, as she sits before her synthesizer. The synthesizer dominates an entire wall of her flat, but again, it is not an oppressive presence. It’s a portal through which opportunity and the future awaits. As Ana sits poised before it, like a mad scientist, we wait with baited breath for the magic to happen. Anyone who has ever been to a Radiohead live show and observed Jonny Greenwood perched at the fringe of the stage in front of his awesome electronic setup will be familiar with the feeling.
At a runtime of less than 80 minutes the film zips along nicely, following Ana as she discovers this new sound despite multiple distractions to her day. Jodorowsky’s performance is completely authentic. She admits that she knew little about electronic music before making the film but perhaps this unfamiliarity is what makes Ana’s journey of discovery all the more credible. Ana’s pure appreciation for music and her genuine reaction of joy to hearing new styles is infectious. Any artist or creative spirit will instantly take to her and appreciate her personal journey.
It’s easy for a story such as this to be told in an incredibly pretentious way. This doesn’t happen. The eccentric characters that come and go throughout the day ground it in an other-worldly reality that’s strangely relatable. Despite the sometimes alien soundtrack (at least to my ears) I didn’t for a second feel alienated from the emotions it was stirring. I was jamming along with the best of them by the time the film hits a certain crescendo and I dare anyone who watches it not to head bop more than once.
What’s equally striking about the film is the thread of male privilege that runs throughout. Ana is constantly told, by men, that she would be better suited to singing since she is so young and pretty and that her engineering efforts behind the scenes will be lost on the masses. It’s also really telling that the one male character who seems to be supportive of her has some implied ulterior motives. Fantastic, then, that Collin writes Ana as completely dedicated to her craft - not distracted by the idea of fleeting romance. Her greatest collaborators and inspirations in this film tend to be women. This is incredibly important given that Collin believes that the female influence on the rise of electronic music was and is completely overlooked.
So then, while not earth shatteringly beautiful, this is a wonderful story that should inspire and resonate with all individuals out there who are sick of the status quo in art. We should enjoy our time spent in the middle of cultural moments, but the only way out is through. The Shock Of The Future is not just a reminder to push boundaries - it’s a reminder that the only sound you really need is the voice in your head, reminding you to believe in yourself.