A man whose wife has died remarries, and his new wife has a daughter of her own from a previous marriage. The man's young son, however, who loved his mother deeply and misses her terribly, ... See full summary »
A man whose wife has died remarries, and his new wife has a daughter of her own from a previous marriage. The man's young son, however, who loved his mother deeply and misses her terribly, resents his father's new wife, not wanting her to take the place of his beloved mother, and makes life miserable for his new stepsister.. Written by
In the mountains of Saint-Luc, devastated pre-teen Jean Forest (as Jean Amsler) attends the funeral of his mother. Too young to understand, little sister Pierrette Houyez (as Pierrette) happily plays at home. She will be told mother is on a trip. Despondent father Victor Vina (as Pierre) is especially concerned about raising his girl without a mother. Soon, he passes on visiting his deceased wife's grave with son Jean to spend time with neighboring widow Rachel Devirys (as Jeanne Dutois). They are married and Ms. Devirys moves in with her own daughter, Arlette Peyran (as Arlette). Shuttled away for the wedding, Jean resents the intrusion...
This excellent silent is almost derailed in the early running. Specifically, it is when young Jean is determined too sensitive to attend his father's second marriage and sent off to live with his godfather (Henri Duval). The kindly priest's mission is to break the news to Jean gently, and return him within a month. It ends with Mr. Duval dropping Jean off some distance from his house; the boy walks home, alone and unannounced. Then Duvall, presumably a close family friend, is not seen again. All in all, this is a strange way for the adults in this drama to treat a child. It illustrates isolation, of course, but could have been left out or done more eloquently...
However, there are no problems understanding this story. In the opening, director Jacques Feyder crushes the screen with the dead mother's coffin, which we see through the eyes of her son. The death of a parent and introduction of a replacement has a profound effect on young Jean. We feel the full weight of that casket. Performers, especially the children, are captured acting naturally. Location photography of the Swiss Alps is beautiful, especially as set up and angled by Mr. Feyder and his crew. The indoor/outdoor sets are terrific, also. And, the ending approaches D.W. Griffith's "Way Down East" (1920) in icy edited excitement.
******** Visages d'enfants (1/24/25) Jacques Feyder ~ Jean Forest, Victor Vina, Rachel Devirys, Henri Duval
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