The first of the three maps in Le Petit Soldat, though it is barely noticeable behind the kissing couple, connects to an opposition in the film between the city's historic aspect - its vieille ville and its lakeside luxury hotels - and recurring examples of new architecture - hotels and apartment buildings. The poster featuring this map - presumably of Geneva - is for an exhibition called 'Voies Urbaines Futures', organised by Geneva's Department of Public Works in March and April 1960.
The other two maps appear at the headquarters of the opposing political factions represented in the film, the FLN and a French (counter-) terrorist group modelled on 'La Main Rouge' (see here for further information on the political background to these plot elements).
In the modern apartment used by the FLN as a base, a map of Western Europe shows several locales, some of them numbered. I can't identify them all, but several are ports (Nantes, Toulon, Genoa, Bristol) and others are major European cities (Brussels, Paris, Zurich Milan, Munich). Rotterdam and Frankfurt are mentioned at this point in the film as sites of terrorist actions. The city with an arrow pointing to it is Geneva.
In the offices of the 'Compagnie Française d'Information', a front for the French terrorist cell, a map of France includes neighbouring Switzerland to the right, with Geneva circled and surrounded by arrows:
These are the maps in the film.
For maps of the film, and other aspects of the film's topography, see my essay on Vimeo, here, derived from the Geneva part of a 'Cities Methodologies' installation hosted by UCL and the Slade in 2010.
(For more on the chronology of Le Petit Soldat, see here.)
After 366 postings, a full year's worth, this is the last daily map. I shall still be posting pictures of maps in films, but only sporadically, alongside occasional BlowUp moments and the odd piece of escalographic Parisiana.Thanks for following.
Among the several modes of representation at work in Soutter's third film, the opposition documentary/fiction is central. In front of a large regional map a journalist who is preparing a broadcast on Lenin's time in Geneva enumerates to camera his various addresses, and the film documents each of them. When the last of these, 61 rue des Maraîchers, is shown, a woman with a suitcase walks into the building, initiating the fiction:
Later we see the journalist's office as part of the fictional world (the camera angle has changed), as the scene of a discussion between the journalist and a work colleague:
The work colleague is the former boyfriend of the woman with the suitcase. We see him tracing on a map his way to the building she had arrived at. Immediately afterwards, the journalist plots on the same map some locations associated with Lenin, including that apartment building:
With the eventual implication of the journalist in the fiction around the woman, the documenting of Lenin's years in Geneva is abandoned. Rather, the film ends on alternative fictional modes - song and slapstick:
'The upside down map thus, ironically, provides a “corrected” orientation. One of the words appearing upside down on the map is Carouge – a district of Geneva, but also by its obvious pun, a designation of something that is not on the map: Auguste's red jeep. This inversion of the map coupled with the code written upside down on the map and designating something that cannot be part of the map's cartographic function force us to think that Kieslowski's atlas in this film is going to be of a world “à l'envers [upside down]” and one whose itinerary must be followed by some other code that we must substitute for any known cartography.'
T. Jefferson Kline, Unraveling French CInema (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), p.102.