Brothers LEO (13) and JULIEN (10) wake up early one spring morning to feed their cows for the last time before FATHER (40s) auctions off the entire farm to pay off the debts incurred by his failed investment in the farm. As agreed before, the brothers embark on one last adventure with the farm’s prized possession, PASCALE, a grey mare which will also be auctioned off. As they ride PASCALE down a lost countryside road they come across another farmer in his car, who crassly tells the boys that he plans on buying most of the constituents of their farm and that he also had his eyes on PASCALE. Upset by this man’s statement, LEO pulls out a pistol from his bag and points it at him as he drives off. As he puts the pistol back in the bag, LEO insists they venture away from such countryside roads and into the wild garigue landscape, ignoring JULIEN’s protests that PASCALE's hooves aren’t well formed for such terrain. Their bickering is interrupted by a discovery of a natural rock pool and the brothers spend a moment there to bathe, splash around and wash PASCALE. During this pause, LEO demonstrates to JULIEN how to handle the pistol, and he fires five shots in the air. JULIEN stops LEO from continuing as PASCALE is visibly stressed, and LEO obliges, but not before claiming to have seen vultures fly off in the air. The boys continue on in their adventure as LEO diverts them from their route further with the aim to track down the vultures. JULIEN gets huffy and tired from a whole day of walking in the sunshine and an argument between the brothers ensues where a horrified JULIEN unveils LEO’s plan to free PASCALE in the wild. Both boys say hurtful things to one another, and as JULIEN desperately tries to reconcile with LEO, LEO spots a red rabbit and freezes. Determined to kill the rabbit in order to summon the vultures, LEO aims the pistol at the rabbit and shoots. He misses, but the gunshot disturbs PASCALE and she panics, causing the three of them to tumble down a clay slope. Miraculously unscathed from such a fall, the brothers discover to their horror that PASCALE has broken her leg and cannot get up. An ugly realisation quickly dawns on the brothers that, having no one near to help them, they have to resort to the unthinkable and mercy-kill PASCALE. JULIEN coaxes LEO to use the pistol, and when LEO reluctantly aims, discovers that he has run out of bullets. The brothers resort to killing PASCALE with a boulder they lift together. Exhausted and perplexed besides her corpse, the brothers watch in silence, as the vultures land beside them with the exploding sunset as a backdrop.
note of intention
‘Fugue’ is a very personal and sensitive project which was inspired by one of my friends who had a similar traumatic experience when he was younger. There are a number of times when I myself have also been in situations where I had to kill a suffering animal. This takes a lot of courage and surprisingly, a lot of compassion and empathy. In such scenarios, not killing the creature would be an act of selfishness.
“Fugue” is about the perfect balance of extreme beauty and extreme violence that is Nature, which ensures the completion of cyclical journeys of life that beget death that in return beget life again, much like the same pattern that sees day turning to night. Brothers Leo and Julien participate in this cycle, and in a way their traumatic experience serves as a rite of passage towards becoming of age.
“Fugue” will develop the tender, simple links and relationship between the siblinghood of Leo, Julien and Pascale as they embark on their final journey together. As a director my aim is to keep things endearing, funny, and relatable between the brothers. This stark difference between the beginning and the end of the film serves to highlight the immensity of Nature’s might.