A reflection on the fate of humanity in the Anthropocene epoch, White Noise is a roller-coaster of a film, a whirlwind of sounds and images. The fourth feature-length work by Simon Beaulieu, this film essay plunges viewers into a subjective sensory adventure—a direct physical encounter with the information overload of daily life. White Noise transforms the imminent collapse of our civilization in the era of climate change and eco-anxiety into a visceral aesthetic experience.
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ONE LINE SUMMARY
A roller-coaster ride that offers viewers a visceral immersion in the daily apathy of the Anthropocene epoch.
A reflection on the fate of humanity in the Anthropocene epoch and the era of Big Data, White Noise is a roller-coaster of a film—a whirlwind of sounds and images that’s utterly unique in the annals of Quebec cinema. This fourth feature-length work and film essay from Montreal director Simon Beaulieu offers a dizzying dive into an unlikely sensory adventure, one in which we viscerally experience the paradox of simultaneous information overload and everyday apathy. The film juxtaposes anonymous POV shots, action sequences, archival images, infrared camera footage, and stroboscopic effects. Playing on our relationship to reality, our social inertia, and the many warning signs of climate catastrophe, White Noise transforms the collapse of our civilization into an aesthetic experience. Rarely has a film so completely fulfilled its intentions. In this age of social media, it’s the most striking unboxing video you can imagine: one that unpacks the end of the world.
A work unlike any other in Quebec cinema, Simon Beaulieu’s White Noise is a visceral sensory experience that looks at the disastrous state of the planet through the prism of our everyday apathy. Beaulieu’s films have always been preoccupied with survival—notably, the survival of Quebec culture in his trilogy Lemoyne (2005), Godin (2011) and Miron: un homme revenu d’en dehors du monde (2014)—but this latest project offers audiences a kind of shock therapy. White Noise is an ensemble film, composed of POV shots created by a multitude of anonymous individuals.
A roller-coaster ride that recycles the tropes of genre movies, White Noise is a collective work made in the age of the individual, and could be described as the inverse of a selfie. A nightmarish cascade of daily trivialities overwhelms us: images of a coffee machine, a yoga mat, cellophane-wrapped food, South Asian landscapes. Disembodied unseen “selves” are subjected to a blitz of archival images and experimental infrared camera sequences, accompanied by an apocalyptic soundtrack.
It may be a cliché to say that a work lives within us, but this fourth feature documentary by Simon Beaulieu transcends the metaphor, hitting us where we are most defenceless— in our own individual perception of reality. The feeling persists long after you’ve finished watching the film. There’s no way you can say, “It’s just a movie.”
And just when this fragmented vision of daily life seems poised to shatter any reason for hope, Beaulieu steps in to push the idea to a climax, attacking the myth of progress and how it has been appropriated by the powerful: corporations richer than states, dark lobbyists, and the optimistic gurus of Silicon Valley who believe that artificial intelligence is the only thing that can save our imperfect world.
“You wanted to mould humanity in the image of your fantasy. You wanted to create a world. Well, you’ve done it,” wrote Alfred de Musset. Rivalling the audacity of John Carpenter’s cult classic They Live, in which special glasses allow people to glimpse the flipside of consumer society, White Noise turns our lives inside out to display the horror film constantly suppressed by the construction we call “reality,” transforming the imminent collapse of our civilization into an aesthetic experience. Rarely has a film so completely fulfilled its intentions.
In the age of social media, it’s the most striking unboxing video you can imagine: one that unpacks the end of the world.
Researched, Written and Directed by
Special Effects and 16-mm Rephotography
Cinematography – Subjective Camera
With commentary by
Participants – Camera
Esperanza Sanchez Espitia
Chun Yi Kuo
Clara Atri Malézieux
With the participation of
Director of Photography
Thermal Camera Rental
Technical Consultant – Camera
Niagara Custom Lab
Aldo La Ricca
Technical Support – Editing
Translation and Subtitling
Exterior Foley Recording
Music Rights Research
We Bow Down Before Your Cross
Composed by Piotr Grigorievich Goncharov
Performed by “The Orthodox Singers” male choir
Georgy Smirnov, Choirmaster
Excerpt from the poem
by Alfred de Musset
A National Film Board of Canada Production