(Searcher) Duck Amuck and Holy Motors

Watching Holy Motors made me rethink about the role of continuity editing. The story was told in a linear/chronological fashion and there wasn’t even anything like a flashback or montage. We learned before that continuity is supposed to achieve temporal and spacial continuity and construct a world that imitates our world, but Holy Motors was nothing like that. Throughout the whole movie, I felt uneasy and confused about what was happening – I didn’t know if the protagonist was acting or being his real self. After doing some research online, I found two things I wanted to share: an interview with the director, and Duck Amuck, which many compared Holy Motors to.


During this interview, the director talked about his reason for using continuity editing.

“It’s a way of telling the experience of a life without using a classical narrative, without using flashbacks. It’s trying to have the whole range of human experience in a day.”

He tends to use very simple devices to tell complicated stories. He was also asked about the world that he wanted to construct in this film, to which he answered:

“I like tragedies, whether they’re sci-fi or something else, but I can’t say I know much about any genre in particular. My second film, “Mauvais Sang,” was science fiction. With “Holy Motors,” the way I imagined it, I had to go play with genre a bit because it’s supposed to be a sci-fi world. It’s not a real job. This character is supposed to go from life to life traveling in a limousine. I didn’t want every life to be the same degree of reality. Some are more fantastic and others are more realistic.”

This really resonated with me as I found some parts of the film more realistic and some extremely sci-fi. For example, the father daughter scene was a scenario that is very likely to happen in our own lives, while the scene where he is home with two chimpanzee was very surreal and absurd in many ways. It is the combination that made the film different from other films.

Upon research, I found that a lot of people compared the animation Duck Amuck with Holy Motors, which I also agree to be true. If you haven’t watched Duck Amuck, it is a story about Daffy Duck who experiences an unconventional adventure, confronting a world where the only constant is change. The unseen animator disrupts the established norms of the animated universe, transforming the scenery, soundtrack, and even Daffy’s physical appearance, creating a surreal and chaotic landscape. As the film progresses, it challenges the audience’s perception of reality, inviting them to ponder the essence of existence itself.

Similar to “Duck Amuck,” “Holy Motors” questions the very nature of reality, blurring the lines between performance and actuality. The boundaries between roles, lives, and the stage are completely dismantled as Monsieur Oscar transitions from one bizarre and diverse character to another. The film, like a series of connected vignettes, delves into the many facets of existence, exploring the authenticity of emotions, identity, and the illusory nature of life itself.

Both “Duck Amuck” and “Holy Motors” exist in realms that challenge the norms of storytelling and presentation. They dissect reality, showcasing the malleability of existence, whether in an animated world or the live-action streets of Paris. The unpredictability of their narratives, the abrupt shifts in tone and setting, and the characters’ fluid identities stand as testaments to their parallel explorations of the nature of reality.

They’re both films that blur the line between performer and audience, fiction and reality, showcasing the power of the creator and the constructed nature of storytelling. Both works delve into the very essence of existence and the ever-evolving landscapes of artistic creation.

Here is a short clip on Duck Amuck

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