Tag Archives: Jean Debucourt

Claude Autant-Lara – Marguerite de la nuit AKA Marguerite of the Night (1955)

Quote:
Truffaut and Godard gave a bad name to the “quality” French cinema that preceded them. This film was one of their pet examples of what they saw as staid, boring, unadventurous cinéma de papa. Without an axe to grind, it is actually a breathtakingly bold modernization of the Faust legend, ravishing to look at with its highly stylized sets (Trauner on LSD) and containing multi-layered undercurrents, including a message on the unthinking destructiveness of youth which seems almost like a prescient reply to its New Wave critics. Read More »

Jean Epstein – La chute de la maison Usher AKA The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)

Quote:
A leading member of the French cinema’s avant-garde movement and the director of the Impressionist classic Coeur fidèle (1923), Jean Epstein broke with his more modernist colleagues in the late 1920s to make documentaries and fiction films grounded in the realities of everyday life. Before that evolution, however, Epstein filmed this adaptation of two Edgar Allan Poe stories: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) and “The Oval Portrait” (1850). The film’s significance lies not so much in its fidelity to Poe’s stories as in its atmospheric evocation of the author’s gothic sensibility. Read More »

Raymond Rouleau – Les sorcières de Salem AKA The Crucible (1957)

Salem, 1692. Industrious farmer, John Proctor, has twice made love to 17-year-old Abigail, a youth he and his wife have taken in. (His wife Elisabeth has rebuffed him for seven months; she is puritanical and cold.) When she finds John and Abigail embracing, she sends the lass from her home and John, feeling damned, agrees. Abigail vows revenge. Her chance comes when she accuses Elisabeth of witchcraft and manipulates younger girls to support her claims of seeing spirits. The town’s minister and politicians want a cause: ridding the town of witchcraft is the ideal repression. John too, is accused; Abigail offers him a way to avoid hanging. Elisabeth has her own confession. Read More »

Jean Grémillon – Le ciel est à vous AKA The Sky is Yours (1944)

Considering that it was made during a bleak and distressing period for France, Le Ciel est à vous is an astonishingly uplifting film with a message of unfettered hope for the future. It is not difficult to read director Jean Grémillon’s allegorical call to arms behind the rather anodyne tale about a Lindbergh-esque exploit, based on the real-life story of Andrée Dupeyron, the wife of a garage owner in Mont-de-Marsan. Released in February 1944, a few months before the Liberation, the film was enormously popular in France, galvanising the efforts of the Resistance and their covert supporters with its inspiring subtext. Although Jean Grémillon would go on to make three more notable films, Le Ciel est à vous was his last commercial success, the highpoint of his career before a rapid decline into obscurity. Read More »