Fr : version française / En: english version

mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

In the white city

Alain Tanner

Date : 1983
Length : 1h 48'
With : Bruno Ganz
Copyright : MK2

View this work in the Urban transportation exhibition

The work

In 1983, Alain Tanner made In the White City with Bruno Ganz, which takes place entirely in Lisbon. The minimalist screenplay has the protagonist Paul (why are all Tanner's heroes called Paul?), an engineer in the merchant navy (like Tanner in his youth), jumps ship in Lisbon, checks into a hotel and, armed with his Super-8 movie camera, explores the city. He drifts into an affair with the hotel's barmaid Rosa, while writing letters to his girlfriend back home in Switzerland, who gives him an ultimatum. Paul takes his time deciding whether to stay on in Lisbon and Rosa disappears. An ode to Lisbon and the pursuit of freedom, the film won a César award for Best French Language Film in 1984.

The director

A Swiss filmmaker born in Geneva in 1929, Alain Tanner founded the Geneva University film club when he was an economics student there. After two years at sea on cargo ships, he returned to Switzerland and became a director in French-speaking Swiss television. His first feature film, Charles, Dead or Alive, introduced a theme typical of Tanner's films: one man's search for freedom. With an eye for talent (Jean-Luc Bideau, Bulle Ogier, etc.), he won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1981 for Light Years Away. Favoring the long-tracking shot, location shooting and live sound recording, and rejecting the cutaway shot, Alain Tanner made films that went against current filmmaking trends, which might explain his retirement.