Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai

← Part of the Collection: Chantal Akerman
Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai

Tombée de nuit sur Shanghai is Akerman's contribution to the collective film L'état du monde, which includes six short films on the state of the world by Pedro Costa, Vicente Ferraz, Wang Bing, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, commissioned by the Portuguese Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. In Tombée de nuit, Akerman's trademark static shots capture the harbour, boats crossing the river, passers-by, the megalopolis' skyline, gigantic illuminated advertisements and night falling in real time. It has little or no storyline. The random background noise of a hotelrestaurant provides the soundtrack of this aimless visual reverie.


“As night falls, the mighty glass towers of Shanghai, like so many giant screens, reflect a maelstrom of images, from a multicoloured Mona Lisa to Walt Disney cartoons, whilst the cacophonic sounds of commercial clips saturate the aural space. The urban skyline morphs into an outdoor cinema where the signs and signifiers of a global world project the dazzling spectacle of simulacra. Over a career of more than forty years, Akerman, in the many guises of her highly diverse film language, has interrogated the images of this world, both in the tangible surfaces that they offer to our eye and in what they tell us about the manifold ways in which individuals behold and apprehend reality. From the interior of the home which has been the privileged territory of her early work to the open spaces of the international metropolis, from Eastern Europe to the heart of the Americas and Asia, her camera captures a world caught between stasis and movement, suspended in a transitional space between past, present and future. At once a phenomenologist and a radiographer, a traveller between inside and outside, she seeks to render visible the invisible, to uncover personal and historical inscriptions behind the habitats, landscapes and material objects that constitute our world. Whether in fictional or in documentary mode, in the kitchen of a Belgian housewife, the waiting room of a Moscow train station or the streets of China's largest city, her cinema draws a complex map of human experience.”

Marion Schmid1

  • 1Marion Schmid, Chantal Akerman (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 172.