The Eighth Day
Directed by Jaco Van Dormael
108 MIN / NARRATIVE / 1996 / BELGIUM / FRENCH WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
A chance encounter one night between Georges and overworked businessman Harry (Daniel Auteil) sets the scene for a carefully-crafted examination of love, loss and the rediscovery of life.
“First there was nothing. Then there was music and then He made the sun.” Jaco van Dormael’s The Eighth Day begins by charting the creation of the earth seen through the eyes of Georges (Pascal Duquenne), who has Down syndrome.
“On the third day He made records, and on the fourth, TV.” It is Georges’ irrepressible imagination which lies at the heart of van Dormael’s original and inspired film.A chance encounter one night between Georges and overworked businessman Harry (Daniel Auteil) sets the scene for a carefully-crafted examination of love, loss and the rediscovery of life. Here are two people who would never normally meet; a clash between order and anarchy, blindness and perception. Harry has one reality: his alarm clock, The Future Bank, the fact that his wife has left him. Society has molded him so thoroughly that he has lost himself. Georges meanwhile has a whole universe of realities and an infinite capacity for love.
Duquenne and Auteil deservedly shared the Best Actor prize at Cannes in 1996 for their emotive performances in “The Eighth Day.” The film is at times almost overwhelmingly poignant, and it is also brilliantly funny – after all, in a previous life Jaco van Dormael was a clown with Belgium’s ‘Big Flying Circus’. Charming and utterly moving, see “The Eighth Day” now, before the Hollywood remake with Dustin Hoffman.