1981-1990DocumentaryFrancePoliticsRomain Goupil

Romain Goupil – Mourir à 30 ans aka Half a life (1982)


Documentary on the life of Michel Recanati, a leading figure in the May 1968 riots in Paris. He was also involved in the Revolutionary Communist Youth movement and anti-fascist campaigns. He was imprisoned briefly in 1973, and five years later committed suicide aged thirty.

This film won the Golden Palm at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.
It often gets referenced as one of the greatest films about “1968”.

NYT Review

ACCORDING to ”Half a Life” (French title: Mourir a Trente Ans), Romain Goupil’s autobiographical film- memoir about growing up in France in the 1960’s and 70’s, the 32-year-old film maker is actually two people living in invigorating disharmony within one skin.

The first Romain Goupil is – and seems always to have been – a movie nut, partly, he says, because he found at an early age that it was easier to make movies than to learn how to spell. The other Romain Goupil has been a fiery political activist since his high school days. Unfortunately for the activist, the movie maker’s sense of irony and his ability to see life in long-shots continually interrupt the career of the would-be revolutionary.

When it is dealing with the movie- madness that erupted all over Europe and America in the late 60’s and early 70’s, ”Half a Life” is one of the brightest, funniest films of its kind since Jim McBride’s classic ”David Holzman’s Diary.” The film is also an earnest attempt to evoke the memory of Michel Recanati, Mr. Goupil’s teen-age political mentor and comrade-in-arms for more than 10 years. Recanati, whom we see in footage shot by Mr. Goupil when they were parading, speaking at revolutionary-youth rallies and discussing the future of mankind at home, seems to have burned himself out before he was 30. He committed suicide in 1978, having been unable to find a place for himself in a world after the hoped-for revolution, begun in May 1968, fizzled out.

Recanati’s life and death are just two of the elements in Mr. Goupil’s own coming-of-age, which ”Half a Life” recalls with great humor and wit through clips from his earliest home movies, newsreel footage and interviews with old friends.

There is a lot of Francois Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel in the Romain Goupil we see in ”Half a Life,” especially in Mr. Goupil’s inability to commit himself to any one cause for very long without seeing the other side. His film is the work of a talented, extremely self-aware new director.

Revolutionaries HALF A LIFE, directed and written by Romain Goupil; in French with English subtitles; camera by Sophie Goupil, Jean Chiabaut and Renan Polles; edited by Francoise Prenant; produced by Marin Karmitz; released by New Line Cinema. Running time: 95 minutes. This film has no rating. WITH: Michel Recanati and Romain Goupil




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