Due to the well-known extravagances so characteristic of the aristocracy, this German Count has sometimes declared his liking for frenchified silent films and among those his affection for Jacques Feyder's oeuvre. Some time ago this German Count had the chance to watch an abridged version of one of the French director's earlier films, "Crainquebille", a film that was very acceptable to strict German tastes; so when some rumors reached the Schloss that the German-French ( an impossible alliance, certainly ) TV channel "ARTE" would show a beautifully restored and tinted version of that film, it was a great opportunity to check if the film in its entirety promised as much as the abridged version.
And that's true, certainly; "Crainquebille" is a beautiful and poetic film that tells the story of a street seller who sells vegetables from his oxcart in the Paris market; due to an incident with a policemen he spends some days in prison, and when he finally comes out of jail everything has changed for him. "Crainquebille" is an astonishing and remarkable film for many reasons: for the technical aspects, because the mastery of Jacques Feyder is in every shot and conception of the film; special and visual effects ( Dr. Mathieu's nightmare, the sequence of Crainquebille in the court ); also excellent cinematography ( the marketplace sequences and specially the night shots ) by Herr Léonce-Henri Burel & Herr Maurice Foster that enriches the film and the story in an excellent way. Besides the technical aspects, "Crainquebille" is remarkable for Feyder's poetry, full of sensibility and not fussiness, which is difficult to do because many directors might have made a very different and worse film from such a story ( there is even an orphaned paper boy with a dog ). When it depicts the different ordinary people that can be seen, sellers, shop assistants, policemen, prostitutes, judges or doctors, a kind of human symphony emerges, as real as life itself; the film also inserts criticisms about social injustices, social degradation and even injustice in the application of justice.
"Crainquebille" is a piece of real life, a kind of documentary of the people who lived in Paris ( or in any great city of the world ) during the 20's, their harsh lives depicted with some sense of humor and hope, a beautiful film that bets always for the honesty and the honest people, a marvelous masterpiece, indeed.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must take a walk on the wild side for an aristocrat, that is to say, in the street market.
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