It’s sad, but the strangely hypnotic How It’s Made has become one of my favourite programmes over the years simply because it champions the most mundane items you can imagine and gives them a starring role.
So imagine my delight when I came across Simon Pénochet’s Le Chocolat, which not only has some gorgeous factory shots but focuses on one of the sexiest everyday objects ever – chocolate. This film is sumptuous and definitely reaffirms chocolate’s position as a luxury item as Simon’s film reminds us of the craftsmanship that goes into making a decent slab of cocoa and how it should take time and patience.
The story is centred on Alain Ducasse, the French chef-extraordinaire and his transformation of an old Renault Factory in Paris into the chocolate factory of his dreams. He’s enlisted the expertise of Nicolas Berger a chocolatier and chocolate bean roaster of 30 years and we’re taken on the labour intensive journey of making his chocolates. It’s a stunning insight into the craft.
Narrating, is Alain himself and his velvety tones talk passionately about returning to the roots of chocolate-making and it being vital for man and machine to simultaneously work together to temper this sweet treat into perfection.
It’s truly a beautiful film and excellently paced. The slow-motion shots of chocolate lackadaisically dripping into a molten pile or flaking into magnificent chocolatey bark make it feel like pure luxury, with the dramatic music only adding to the delicious tension. While we’ve seen recent influx of people returning to true craftsmanship, the sophistication Simon has injected into this story really sets it apart from others I’ve seen.