第一次看《主婦日誌》差不多是廿年前的事，在香港藝術中心的地庫電影院。她洗身刷浴缸燒水做飯做飯做飯，為什麼看起來如此熟悉？ 後來在紐約上B. Ruby Rich的「女性主義電影」課，看到艾格曼的《我你他她》。Rich回憶她策劃芝加哥同志影展時，艾格曼如何拒絕把此片定位為「女同片」或「女性主義電影」，那時她的年輕不足以理解創作人抗拒被局限於某一種性/別身分的多重意義。有一次接受BBC訪問時，艾格曼提到「如果有人問我是否女性主義導演，我會答我是女性而我拍片」。 她似乎在反問，她的電影正在思考她作為女性而她拍片，及兩者之間的關係這事情，便被認為是「女性主義電影」了，那說明我們生活在一個怎麼樣的社會呢？
性，是艾格曼書寫自我的旅程中一個章節，或套用珍妮迪勞曼的話：「一個細節而已」（merely a detail），重要的是如何讓自我協商出一種新的自由，繼續旅程的開放及可能。《我你他她》中的「我」替公路上招來的男子打完手槍後，她闖入了一個超越過去自身限制（包括在第一段中呈現的物質匱乏與感情上的封閉）的空間，經歷了貨車司機經歷的世界——「他」與「他」的酒吧，從而到達「她」的空間。敘事上，「他」被呈現成「我」與「她」之間的一個媒體，一種在發掘自身感情/愛情空間前（必須）嘗試、感受的肉體經驗。艾格曼曾經指出她的首部長片《我你他她》裏三段各自要處理的是：「主體的時間」、「他者的時間」與「關係的時間」。 與男子的性互動中，鏡頭的重點不在艾格曼的反應或動作上，而完全集中在男子的上半身反應上，使這性行為成了男子個人的肉體經驗，觀眾（跟艾格曼一起）透過凝視男子這感官反應，觀察與了解身體的需要、欲望之必須滿足及其無法滿足。經歷了這種對身體的包容與明白，到第三段，才有可能與人建立一種「留下來」的關係。同時，透過與異性戀的性來想像與體驗（身體的經驗）自我與同性的可能關係，及了解自身對同性的慾望與感情。異性戀體制無處不在，主宰我們的慾望結構；透過經驗它，自我更領會慾望的本能與限制。
《我你他她》中第三段「我」與女子長長的床戲，經常被女性主義學者指為顛覆了以異性戀觀點出發的性愛呈現。異性戀A片集中再現女性身體局部，尤其是乳房與下體的特寫，再配以誇張的呻吟聲。《我你他她》中的床戲不單特寫欠奉，只有三個長鏡頭呈現兩女子的抱擁纏綿，在色差、明暗、聲音的控制上也極求低限，使觀眾難以辨識誰的身體是誰又哪裏是床哪裏是身體，也難以辨識誰的聲音是誰，彷彿都只有床上的摩擦聲。鏡頭的長度迫使電影的時間（reel time）貼近現實的時間（real time）、主體與鏡頭的固定距離、低限的美學與非感官主導的構圖，皆顛覆一般異性戀色情的想像與再現，及觀眾消費主流性再現的慣性偷窺位置。從挑戰自我、他者到關係的尋索，身分是一個流動不止的符號，根據不同的脈絡與具體經驗被更新、建構與重組。艾格曼書寫中的自我是一個不斷流動、過程中持續調整的旅程，不會停留在某一種身分政治的框架內，又同時時刻反思著每一個社會身分的既定脈絡。
節錄自: 游靜，《我冷我餓，愛欲執迷——桑堤艾格曼自我書寫之可能與不能》，《電影欣賞》 第24卷第1期(總號第125期)，2005年10-12月號，台灣：國家電影資料館，頁74-78。
Chantal Akerman 在European Graduate School與公眾對談時的話。"On Absence and Imagination in Documentary Film: An open discussion with Chantal Akerman", 01年6月。"When you give someone a movie to look at, you take away ninety minutes of his life. It's an enormous difference, and that's what something I'm very preoccupied with in my movies. I think that my movies have a kind of violence in the way I use the time, a very subtle violence, and instead of being a violence of explosion, it's a violence of implosion. It's a violent act when I push a shot as far as I can until it is just unbearable, and then I give another shot and you breathe again. It's a violence done to the body of the viewer, because it's becoming a physical experience." http://mikehoolboom.com/?p=71
A self-narrative through obsession with love and desire
By Yau Ching / Translated by: Lo Yan Chi
"When you give someone a movie to look at, you take away ninety minutes of his or her life. It's an enormous difference, and that's what something I'm very preoccupied with in my movies. I think that my movies have a kind of violence in the way I use the time, a very subtle violence, and instead of being a violence of explosion, it's a violence of implosion. It's a violent act when I push a shot as far as I can until it is just unbearable, and then I give another shot and you breathe again. It's a violence done to the body of the viewer, because it's becoming a physical experience." 1
It was almost twenty years ago when I first watched "JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles" in the cinema of Hong Kong Arts Centre. In the film, Jeanne showered her body, scrubbed the bathroom, boiled the water and cooked a meal. I asked myself why did everything look so familiar to me? Then, I watched Chantal Akerman's "Je Tu Il Elle" on a Feminist film class given by B. Ruby Rich. Rich recalled when she was planning the Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, Akerman denied to categorize her films as "Lesbian film" or "Feminist film". At that time, Rich was too young to understand the multiple meanings of the refusal of the director to be categorized to a certain identity of sexuality. There was another time Akerman mentioned in a BBC interview, "if someone asked me if I am a feminist director, I would answer I am a woman and I make film." It appears as she was asking a rhetorical question: her film discussed the role of herself who make film as a woman and the relationship between making a film and being a woman. If she was considered as a feminist director just because her films discussed these ideas, then what did it tell us about the society we were living in?
Any attempt to approach and understand Akerman's films will unavoidably turn out to become a process of self-reflection and self-narrative and it will also become an experience of understanding the construction and the context of one's identity. It is because the central theme in all her films has always been a persistent self-reflection and self-narrative and reflection on the construction of oneself.
From the "My" (French: "ma") in "Saute ma ville" (Blow up my town, 1968) to the "I" (Frech: "Je") in "Je Tu Il Elle" (I You He She), which were both directed, scripted and acted by Akerman herself, Akerman confronted the society's construction (Saute ma ville) and explored a controllable and manageable path after escaping from the environment which was so destructive and would destroy oneself thus needed to be destroyed by oneself. In "Saute ma ville", there was only "ma", the eighteen-year-old Akerman who cooked meals, scrubbed floor, had meals, sealed the door and slept on top of the stove inside a narrow kitchen. And, finally, her gaze and the explosive sound sticked "ma" and this little space together forever and also equalized "ma" and "ville" – Blowing up my town turned out to be blowing up "me". The idea of "me" and "my town" in Akerman's first film is interchangeable. "My town" apparently is a part of oneself, which cannot be abandoned and distanced, but it also needs to be destroyed subjectively to accommodate "me" to find journeys for the future.
The journey in "J'ai faim, j'ai froid" (I'm Hungry, I'm Cold), "Je Tu Il Elle "(I You He She), "Les Rendez-vous d'Anna" (The Meetings of Anna) and "News from Home" are all parts of a long line: after escaping the suffocating and constraining environment, the characters came to the big metropolis to develop their own interests. (The two girls asked each other what they wanted to do. Then, they sang altogether) Soon they realized that they could not make a living by singing. Even if it could, people who gave them money also had a hidden agenda: when one girl was sleeping with a man, the other girl had to prepare meals. Housework, just like the way Dielman cooking, boiling water and washing shoes and Akerman scrubbing her shoes too hard that blackened her leg, is a way of healing from the helplessness they felt in trying to survive.
Sex is just a chapter of the story where Akerman narrates herself or, to quote from Jeanne Dielman, it is "merely a detail." What is more important in these stories is to negotiate with oneself to find a new path to freedom and other possibilities in life. After "Je" in "Je Tu Il Elle" (I You He She) finished a hand job for a man she met on the road, she came to a world where she could break free from her own limitations in the past (including the first chapter where she suffered from physical and emotional deprivation.) and, in this space, she experienced the world from the perspective of the truck driver－through "his" and "his" bar, she reached "her" space. From the narrative point of view, "he" was represented as a medium between "me" and "she"; and, it is a necessary physical experience for someone who wants to explore his/her own affection or love. Akerman once pointed out that her first feature film "Je Tu Il Elle" (I You He She) was divided into three sections to deal with: "Time of subjectivity", "Time of Other" and "Time of relationship". When filming the sexual interactions between Akerman and the man, the camera focused not on the reaction or action of Akerman, but on the reaction of the man, mainly his upper body. By doing so, it turns the sex experience into the personal physical experience of the man. And, through the gaze at the reaction of the man, audiences (together with Akerman) can observe and understand the need and the desire, both the must-be-satisfied part and the unsatisfiable part of a body. Only after this experience of understanding the need of a body, the character can finally have a chance to develop a "lasting" relationship with other people. At the same time, through the heterosexual sex experience in the film, it is possible to imagine and experience the relationship, desires and emotions towards homosexual that lie within our mind. The institution of heterosexual is everywhere in our world and it defines the structure of our desire. Only by experiencing this institution, we can understand the natural instinct and limitations of our desire.
The sex scene between "I" (french: je ) and the woman in "Je Tu Il Elle" (I You He She) is deemed by some feminist scholars as having overturned the traditional way where sex is often represented standing at the heterosexual perspective. In a typical heterosexual pornography, the focus is always on specific parts of women bodies, particularly on breast and the private part, along with exaggerated cries of pleasure. However, in "Je Tu Il Elle", there was very little close-up shots regarding the sex scenes, but only three long takes.
The use of contrast, brightness and volume were all minimized, making all the actions and sounds almost indistinguishable. Every sound seems to be the frictions from the bed. Also, the duration of the shot is so long that it makes reel time corresponds to the real time. The distance between the subject and the camera, the minimalist aesthetics and the non-sensory-oriented composition; all these features overturned the typical heterosexual imagination of sex. From challenging oneself and other to exploring relationships, identity is an ever-changing symbol. It is renewed, constructed and reconstructed by different contexts and experiences. Akerman's self-narrative is a constant flowing journey that will adjust itself in the process. It never stops at any framework of the politics of identity and constantly reflects the set context of every identity in society.
Extracted from: YAU Ching, "I am Cold, I am Hungry, obsession with love and desire
–––Chantal Akerman possibilty and impossibility of self-narrative", Film Appreciation Academic Section chapter 24, number 1, Oct-Dec, 2005, Taiwan:Film Institute, P74-78。
1 Joyce M. Youmans, "Akerman, Chantal" http://www.glbtqarchive.com/arts/akerman_c_A.pdf