PETER LIECHTI (1951-2014)
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LUCKY JACK – Three attempts to stop smoking (2003, Documentary/Essay, - 35mm Dolby-SR, 16:9 - DigiBeta - DCP 24p/s, English subtitles - DVD, Franšais/Deutsch/English/, 90')
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Lucky Devil (The Smoker Film)
LUCKY JACK uses the genre of a documentary essay to develop its theme along the sensitive edge of finding and creating, documenting and interpreting and of storytelling between coincidence and planning never leaving the thin line of a «smoking track».

The story is about the one who sets out to get rid of his smoking habits. After having failed innumerous times to quit smoking he has given up believing in some sort of "recipes". Instead, he decides to develop his own method aiming at freeing himself from his addiction. The thing about the method is that on the one hand it keeps him physically on the run, but on the other hand, he is thus being confronted with the deeper roots of his addictions.

But what keeps crossing his plans is his genuine sympathy for smokers. Actually, he even has to admit having certain feelings of contempt towards that dull guild of (over)rational nonsmokers, and conversely, he experiences how he secretly admires those reckless and ardent champions of excess. Looking at himself, however, he has lost this kind of conviction and this time he would like to side with the reasonable.

Assuming that smoking is a substitute so he is not spared a thing while trying to find what he actually wanted to substitute with his smoking. This means that he has to go (back) to the point when he no longer enjoyed lighting a cigarette and started to compensate. Yet, this path does not lead to psychological analyses, it much rather follows certain ways of pilgrimages the ancient methods of "catharsis", the inner purification to reach the goal of «redemption».

One day he sets of on his first major hike. He intends to pace out the country, like a ritual, and he imposes a strict ban on smoking on himself. This should be the way to get finally rid of the burden of his old vices. His first attempt fails, yet, he is not frustrated but ready to repeat the journey as often as needed to reach his goal.

He has chosen the East of Switzerland for his journey, starting from Zurich, his present residence, back to St. Gallen, the city he grew up; only the routes keep changing: At times he journeys along the Lake of Constance, at times over the Alpstein or just "right across"... In his mind memories of past journeys come up Africa and other places that he had undertaken during this period and he «walks through» it again.
Soon he realizes: If one intends to stop something it needs more of a process than just to begin with something new. The physical withdrawal not only heightens the agony but also the intensity of perception. Even the smallest details are suddenly relevant, whole regions turn into huge projection areas. To be exposed to such a situation makes him vulnerable which he can only support by adhering to a radically honest behavior at times, this is what puts him quite afar from socalled reality.

In addition, withdrawal also includes the fading away of beloved places, forgetting or being forgotten, or the loss of home and roots, of old safety nets and convictions, and of meaning itself... those wellknown diffuse fears that come up when losing one's own.
It gets more and more difficult to name what bothers one presently. So, finding out about this lack of meaning in life and inspiration seems to correspond to his personal motivation but beyond that it seems to be a contemporary concern shared by many. Thus, he starts to document his withdrawal.

Sometimes, his «trips» get rather bizarre and lead to the weirdest encounters. It remains a fact that one sees and experiences much more going on foot. Whether he wants it or not, he comes closer to things and also to himself. Finally, all the adventures, images, feelings and memories he walks again during his (non)smokinghikes and which he brought back from his journeys create the fundamentals for a filmed trip through the heaven and hell of his fatherland including some excursions way beyond borders. The underlying theme takes increasing shape: the film is also about trying to find home and direction in view of all the affliction around in this fragmented world.

I feel very much telling this story and to try and show what is there to be found when one is ready to let go. Hoping to balance the seriousness of the issue with (self)irony thus creating a film of fun, thrill, insight and maybe even of benefit.

LUCKY JACK is striking a blunt balance between himself and his country. Yet, it is also a confession of love. A roadmovie for pedestrians, a film about your home for those without a home. A dedication to all smokers and other addicted, to all unlucky fellows that managed to keep respectable and to unlucky Jack...

© 2003-2018 : www.peterliechti.ch : Top of page : Konzept Claude Brauchli / Programmierung+Entwicklung Mathias Knauer