Herr Julien Duvivier was a great French film director well known for his talkie career, specially during the 30's of the last century, a time when his films were very appreciated for their "poetic realism". However, it is unfair to neglect his remarkable silent career, a very interesting time during which Herr Julien established his style working as an assistant director to great French silent film directors like Herr André Antoine, Marcel L'Herbier and Herr Feuillade.
"Poil de Carotte" is a great film and a good example of Herr Duvivier's stylistic virtues. It is a beautiful and classical oeuvre that tells the story of the complicated relationships within a French family in a provincial town. It is a film adaptation of the French author Herr Jules Renard's eponymous oeuvre, which Herr Duvivier would later remake as a talkie in 1932.
Many longhaired youngsters might think that with such a plot, this German aristocrat couldn't appreciate or understand those peasant family French conflicts depicted in the film, but it isn't so because family conflicts is also a customary habit in the aristocracy and certain particular attitudes of the local inhabitants of that provincial French town ( gossip, politics ) are very usual too in aristocrat circles.
Everything is brilliant in "Poil de Carotte", from technical and special effects that enrich superbly the film narrative of the oeuvre ( imaginative and varied camera tricks ) to splendid cinematography by Herr Ganzli Walter und André Dantan, that emphasizes masterfully the different surroundings of the film. There are moody shots that give a particular atmosphere to indoor scenes ( beautiful and dark and complicated to be filmed ) or outdoor scenes that are bright and reminiscent of Herr Renoir or Herr Van Gogh paintings.
The acting is perfect and the actors are inspired in their interpretations; Francois Lepic ( nicknamed by his family as "poil de carotte" - red-head ) is performed convincingly by André Heuzé, a child who is continuously maltreated by his own family, especially his wicked mother, Madame Lepic ( Charlotte Barbier-Krauss ) a "dominatrice" woman with a splendid moustache (not unlike the one sported by this German count ) and his brother and sister, Félix and Annette ( Fabien Haziza und Lydia Zorena, respectively ); his father-patient but distant- is Monsieur Lepic ( Henry Krauss ) who doesn't know how to deal with such complex family relationships and conflicts. The supporting cast is also excellent, particularly a local singer who's also the provincial French vamp, Ernestine ( Renée Jean ) who this German count likes specially.
"Poil de Carotte" is a film with a strong regional French flavour but also with Dickensian overtones, a wonderful oeuvre of a director who has a splendid but unfortunately not well-known silent period that deserves rediscovery.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has an appointment with a Teutonic redhead heiress with a big moustache.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien
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