When he uses the artificial tears and remembers the letter, David acts out “a slow-motion, fearful escape” over the Berlin Wall. What are the connections between the events and feelings accumulated in this event in Polygraph by Lepage and Bassard?
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The Berlin Wall symbolizes the closed up lives and emotions that the characters feel and desire to escape from. This symbolism applies to David and Francois. David acts out the symbolism through his artificial escape from behind the looming wall that symbolizes their personal walls. The wall is illustrated by the theme of fact versus fiction and truth versus lies. It represents also the conflation of reality with fiction: David representationally tries to transcend this conflation to find open (unclosed off) reality.
In Lepage and Brassard's Polygraph, the artificial tears are particularly significant of being able to express one's feelings truthfully, and David's flight from Berlin speaks to what I believe is an emotional escape from his emotions.
The scene between David and Lucie with the artificial tears is important in that the liquid will allow Lucie to pretend a sadness she does not feel while acting in the film about the rape and murder of Marie-Claude Legare. (Later she cries without the fake tears.)
Lucie seems to imply that one cannot give the appearance of an emotion without have experienced that emotion first-hand—hence the need for the liquid. (Though later, she feels true sadness over Marie's death and cries freely.) But David never shares any emotion whatsoever—interesting in that he believes the use of the fake tears is dishonest:
What a deception! I believed that for an actor at least, tears were the ultimate proof of true emotion.
This comment is telling in that while he spends each day administering polygraph tests as an criminal investigator, where emotions are allegedly measured with accuracy despite the wishes of the subject being tested—and that David believes tears are the ultimate "proof of true emotion." Ironically, David is a master at masking his emotions. David expresses no emotion even when Lucie feels the situation call for it.
When Lucie and David first meet, Lucie has just witnessed the suicide of a young man in front of the speeding Metro train. She is bordering on hysteria, but David completes his tasks methodically— even comforting Lucie in a practiced way, inferring that he is emotionally cut-off from the world:
He kneels expressionless, beside the 'tracks' at the edge of the stage...He takes out a notebook and writes...Lucie is going into shock...David assesses her, completes his notes, puts away his notebook carefully, then goes to her...smoothing her shoulder rhythmically.
If concerned for what Lucie (witness to a violent death) was going through, David might have finished his work quickly, had someone else see to the details, or had someone else go to Lucie. Notice that he puts his notes away "carefully," which shows no hurry on his part to go to Lucie's aid. The rhythm of his soothing gesture appears to be done more from practice than from real concern. When Lucie asks a question about the death:
Was...he killed on impact?
David answers with one word; then—without pause—he asks if she needs a ride!
Yes. Can I give you a lift somewhere?
Obviously he needs to maintain a professional demeanor, but his cool façade never changes. While he notes that the "fundamental things of life [are] love, honour...death," death seems to be that which dominates his attention—but still elicits no reaction from him. In David's report about the use of the polygraph, he conveys the need to avoid the damage a polygraph might cause a subject; but he never shows concern for how Francois may have been harmed by David's non-disclosure of the test's results.
When Lucie tells David that she slept with Francois to comfort him, he is so emotionally cut-off that she has to demand that he show some kind of feeling, and to cry if he feels like it:
David's exit from Berlin may reflect a flight from attachment, for Anna wrote that when he left she knew that he did not return her love for him.
David looks for emotional honesty from others, but he is incapable of being so himself.
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