The Collapse (L’Effondrement) is a French miniseries written and directed by the collective Les Parasites ( Jeremy Bernard, Guillaume Desjardins and Bastien Ughetto ). It is made up of 8 chapters between 17-28 minutes each. The planet has said enough. The economic and social system has collapsed. It only remains to fight for survival.
It stars Lubna Azabal (Incendies, Adam), Philippe Rebbot (An Original Accord, Mendoza Wedding), Bellamine Abdelmalek, Lola Burbail, Thibault de Montalembert, Audrey Fleurot, Samir Guesmi, Claire Guillon, Caroline Piette, Pierre Rousselet and Bastien Ughetto. The series premieres in Spain through Filmin, on July 14, 2020.
What would happen to the planet and to our society if the System collapsed tomorrow? What principles would govern the new normality: solidarity, equality or survival? Would it mean the end of Humanity, or perhaps an opportunity to change and shelve an industrial society that seems to have reached the limit?
In 8 episodes filmed in sequence, “El Colapso” offers us the most distressing and clairvoyant audiovisual experience of the year. A technical feat that captures the spirit of this pandemic year more accurately than television newscasts. A series that seems called to make history.
The theory of collapsology
The French collective called Les Parasites is made up of former members of L ‘École internationale de creation audiovisuelle et de realisation (EICAR) located in La Plaine-Saint-Denis. They started by making short films that hung for free on YouTube, financing their projects through crowdfunding. That creative independence has helped them to face their project El Colapso (L’Effondrement).
The series places us in a dystopian world where there has been an ecological and social collapse that, however, will remind us in many ways of the current world. And more especially with the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic is having on our lives. In The Collapse (L’Effondrement) the causes are not explained too much, but it does not take too many cabal to understand what happened, you just have to take a look around us.
In fact, the theory of collapsology actually exists and is something that ranges from the ecological to the geopolitical aspect. In it, the end of civilization is predicted, as we know it, after the conjunction of several crises caused by mankind, ranging from the environmental and energy to the political and economic. Some of these crises we are experiencing in our meats and others we see as they are coming. Although there is a scientific basis to consider many of these theories, it is true that there is also a trend towards the catastrophic with statements such as that in 2040 there will be no cars and we will all ride on horses.
Shot sequences of great technical virtuosity
In this way, the different episodes of The Collapse (L’Effondrement), will randomly place us in the days after that end of modern civilization, except for the last episode where we will return to five days before everything is triggered.
Each episode works as an independent short film, although in some there is a transfer of characters. The eight episodes have a duration of less than half an hour each, in which characters are shown who must face a limit situation. That dramatic trigger serves its directors to reflect human behavior in moments of crisis, where the best and worst of oneself are usually brought out.
The eight episodes are recorded in a constantly moving sequence shot. It is a true technical prodigy that leads us to live situations without a continuity solution as extraordinary as getting on a plane with a character that rises in the sky or traveling by boat in the middle of the ocean. In that sense, I would highlight Episode 7 (The Island), a true genius that is hard to believe has been shot.
A disheartening portrait of humanity
Overall, all the episodes of The Collapse (L’Effondrement) demonstrate amazing handling of the mise-en-scene through a handheld camera. But also in the use of space and the scenic choreography of the characters. I guess everything is planned in detail and that each scene would take several days to shoot, however, the feeling is so realistic that it seems improvised. That’s the great find of the series.
The worst thing is that there is no space to delve into the psychology of the characters. Facing them from start to finish in a desperate situation almost always shows us an unflattering face of humanity where selfishness, individualism and pettiness prevail. This makes it very difficult to identify with the characters and that in many cases you cannot empathize with them, which distances you in their suffering. In very few cases, true humanity and solidarity appear as a necessary act to survive without losing our identity. That is when the emotional involvement of the viewer will be greater, as, for example, happens in Episode 6 (The Residence).
List of episodes
The French miniseries El Colapso (L’Effondrement) is made up of 8 episodes between 17-28 minutes each.
Episode 1: The Supermarket.
Synopsis: Two days after the Collapse. At a time when resources are depleted, Omar, a cashier in a supermarket, has to face the unique demands of customers worried about supply problems. His girlfriend appears without warning with some friends to stock up on food and flee the city that same night. Omar hesitates to stay in town or help his friends steal supplies.
Episode 2: The Service Station.
Synopsis: Five days after the Collapse. In an apocalyptic world, basic needs are scarce. Barter is widespread. Christophe, the owner of a service station, rations what little fuel remains in exchange for food. However, customers are becoming more violent and things are getting complicated.
Episode 3: The Aerodrome.
Synopsis: Six days after the Collapse. Laurent Desplat, a businessman, receives the phone call from the government department responsible for evacuating influencers to put them in a safe place. You only have fifteen minutes to get to the nearest airport, where the last plane waiting to evacuate people awaits. He will do his best to get it, regardless of the people he leaves behind.
Episode 4: The Village.
Synopsis: Twenty-five days after the Collapse. Cities have become dangerous due to chaos and food shortages. So Stephane, Carine, Mathieu and a group of around thirty people arrive in a village where some twenty men and women organize in a small self-sufficient society. Inhabitants meet to decide whether or not to accept all newcomers. The fear of being rejected will lead them to make decisions without turning back.
Episode 5: La Central.
Synopsis: Forty-five days after the Collapse. A nuclear engineer tries, with the help of volunteers, to cool the fuel of a nuclear power plant based on buckets of water. In fact, they are waiting for a group of technicians to repair the dam. The plant is heating up more and more and threatens to explode and send all its radioactivity to nearby towns.
Episode 6: The Residence.
Synopsis: Fifty days after the Collapse. Despite the collapse of society, a male nurse methodically continues his work with the elderly confined to a residence. He is the only worker who has not left the building. One day, the young man discovers that his stored supplies have been stolen, placing him in a limit situation.
Episode 7: The Island.
Synopsis: One hundred and seventy days after the Collapse. On board a sailboat, a woman searches for an island with an infrastructure prepared to accommodate survivors who have obtained a special permit. Fighting the elements and other people who want to get hold of your ship will take you on a survival adventure.
Episode 8: The Emission.
Synopsis: Five days before the Collapse. While modern society is on the verge of chaos, a scientist and environmental activists are about to break into a television set where the Minister of Ecology is debating with light-hearted socialists who take iron from the situation. They want to warn of what is coming, but they do not take them seriously.
Conclusion of ‘The Collapse (L’Effondrement)’
The Collapse (L’Effondrement) is an 8-episode French miniseries, directed by the Les Parasites collective, made up of former students from L ‘École internationale de creation audiovisuelle et de realisation (EICAR). The episodes are shot camera in hand and in sequence shot. It is a narrative prodigy that manages to transmit the suffocating sensation suffered by its protagonists. The eight episodes function as independent short films whose plot line is based on the fight for survival after the collapse of modern civilization.
The Collapse (L’Effondrement) is a formally brilliant series that leaves you breathless. Episodes are pills that make you addicted and it is difficult not to see them in one go. Narrative immediacy hurts affective involvement, as you hardly know the characters, but the visual force is such that it drags you into its emotional whirlpool. Highlights Episode 7 (The Island), a brutal sequence shot starring almost alone by actress Lubna Azabal, who literally leaves her skin.
The Collapse (L’Effondrement) is a realistic series that shows the selfish savagery inherent in human pettiness, with slight flashes of solidarity in times of crisis. Beyond the reflections and conclusions that we can draw to relate it to our current world, so dependent on the economy and shaken by pandemics, it is an apocalyptic series of science fiction that amazes for its staging. Absolutely recommended.