Reinterpreting an idea taken from Diderot, L’Esprit de l’Escalier (Hindsight) follows the story of an old man who, upon coming back home one night, crosses paths with a woman he seems to recognize. This apparition will plunge the man into the remembrance of things past and more particularly into the memory of an encounter he had in his youth: an encounter that always remained a mystery and which has haunted him all his life.

  • Harald Hutter
    Léthé, Streams in Blue, 1.1.87, Prelude to Barbican, La Baguette a Marcel
  • Harald Hutter
    Léthé, Streams in Blue, 1.1.87, Prelude to Barbican, La Baguette a Marcel
  • Harald Hutter
    Léthé, Streams in Blue, 1.1.87, Prelude to Barbican, La Baguette a Marcel
  • Florian Hutter
  • Lou Castel
    Key Cast
    Fists in the Pockets, Beware of the Holy Whore, The American Friend etc.
  • Florian Hutter
    Key Cast
    Streams in Blue, Nuremberg: Goering's Last Stand
  • Julia Artamanov
    Key Cast
    La Belle Endormie, La Terre Outragée
  • Alex Nevill
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    L'Esprit de l'Escalier
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Genres:
    Romance, mystery
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 55 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Aesthetica Film Festival
    November 6, 2015
    North American Premiere
Director Biography - Harald Hutter

Harald Hutter is a filmmaker based in Paris. His films have been shown at various international film festivals where they have received awards.
Harald holds a B.F.A in Art History from Concordia University in Montreal and a Masters in Philosophy and Film from University College London.
His most recent short film, Léthé, won a prize at the 68th Edinburgh Film Festival and also at the Aesthetica Film Festival whilst also being nominated by the British Council for best UK short at LSFF 2015.

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Director Statement

L’esprit de l’escalier is an idea that literally translates as the spirit of the staircase. First coined by Denis Diderot (the French philosopher) the idea was elaborated to describe the feeling that one has when leaving a place and as one is walking down the staircase – away from where one was moments before – and one thinks of all the things one should have said but didn’t say.
This idea has haunted me for a long time insofar as I have been struck by that feeling numerous times – that I always think, too late, of the things I should have said or done but that I only think of once it’s too late. Haunted also, because this idea is close to my main concerns regarding voluntary and involuntary memory as well as recollection.
Working from the various philosophical questions that l’esprit de l’escalier opens up, I chose to develop the film around a character (interpreted by Lou Castel) who is haunted by his past. Taking inspiration from Diderot’s idea I also wanted to play with the literal meaning (spirit of the staircase). As such, the film begins with the encounter of an old man and a spirit as he is coming home one evening.
In order to bring out a slightly surrealist feeling, my cinematographer and I chose to work with long tracking steadycam shots which give a sense of drifting – as if a spirit was floating in the meanders of a burning memory. In a desire to give depth and nuance to the digital images, we also played around with the lenses for the fantasy sequences. This in-camera work gives a tonality and a texture to the film all the while emphasizing the subjectivity of the main character when faced with his memories.
The sound design was also developed in such a way as to bring out a world that exists at the threshold of what is real. In order to do this, a large majority of the sounds and voices were post-synchronized. This type of sound design gives a schism between the image and the sound that I am particularly found of. It also gives a distance between what is seen and what is heard – a distance that further reflects the distance of the character to his personal memory.
L’Esprit de L’Escalier (or Hindsight) is also, and above all, a story of unfulfilled desires and a dive into a world populated by fantasies and spirits – both real but also imagined.