Purple Television

[March 29 2020] : film

Purple Paradiso: “More” By Barbet Schroeder, 1969, Your Movie Of The Day Curated By Savannah Nolan and Olivier Zahm

Purple Paradiso: “More” By Barbet Schroeder, 1969, Your Movie Of The Day Curated By Savannah Nolan and Olivier Zahm

More, shot in 1969, was Barbet Schroeder’s first directorial effort. He was 28 years old at the time of its’ release. The original soundtrack was recorded by Pink Floyd. It is seen by many as a cliché “hippy” movie celebrating the “sea, sex and sun,” but it’s actually a deep, meaningful, critical analysis of alternative counterculture in 1969.  The film depicts one of the first times we see drugs being consumed on film – just before the onset of the 70’s.


The film follows Stefan, a recent college graduate from Germany, who hitchhikes from dreary Lübeck to dreamy Paris, where he meets a free-spirited American girl named Estelle at a bourgeois party on the Left Bank. Stefan falls in love with Estelle, even though his new Parisian friends warn him to stay away from her. They leave Paris and go to Ibiza together to chase the sun and escape the world. Their idyllic island life and love affair gradually degenerate when she introduces him to heroin. They both descend into addiction.


Initially Schroeder wanted to name the film Icarus. His film draws many parallels to the mythological Greek tale. Like Icarus, Stefan is caught by the magic of the sun (falling in love with Estelle), and quickly starts flying towards the sun (Ibiza). As he soars, he approaches the sun (the hippie ideology of drugs, free love, happiness, and doing nothing). The proximity causes the wax on his wings begin to melt. Icarus, who cannot realize that the wax is melting, rises more and the inevitable end takes place. The wax, which holds his wings together, melts, and the young man falls quickly and plunges into the sea.  Icarus’ pursuit of pleasure, happiness and beauty by forgetting all boundaries (hippie life) eventually brings him to his death. Icarus following the sun is like Stefan and Estelle’s hippie dream of moving to an island, towards the sun, to escape the world. The word “utopia,” derived from Greek, means “no place” or “nowhere,” a place outside the world.  Ibiza clearly symbolizes the hippie dream which the movie gradually deconstructs.


Schroeder films the failure of this “hippie” dream of escape – a bold choice to make in 1969 at the beginning of hippie mania. Beyond filming the failure of such a system, he uses their own golden commandment of “love” to destroy the dream.  Schroeder and his superb cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, visualize the alternating agonies and ecstasies of a fatal love with the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.  It’s a story of self-destruction by two lovers wrapped inside an impossible dream, the ideology of a generation who wanted “more” but refused to face reality. More is a fantastic example of late 60s counterculture cinema.

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