Psychological narrative avantgarde film about a wealthy young businessman who consecutively falls in love with a classy English woman (Pearl), a Russian sculptress (Athalia), and a naive ... See full summary »
One of the first feminist movies, The Smiling Madame Beudet is the story of an intelligent woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Her husband is used to playing a stupid practical joke in ... See full summary »
Two people stand on a road, out of focus. Seen distorted through a glass, they retire upstairs to a bedroom where she undresses. He says, "Adieu." Images: the beautiful girl, a starfish in ... See full summary »
Kiki of Montparnasse,
André de la Rivière,
A long series of unrelated images, revolving, often distorted: lights, flowers, nails. A lightboard appears from time to time carrying the news of the day. Then, an eye. A woman in a car ... See full summary »
A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, ... See full summary »
A spiral design spins dizzily. It's replaced by a spinning disk. These two continue in perfect alternation until the end: a spiral design, a disk. Each disk is labelled and can be read as ... See full summary »
Psychological narrative avantgarde film about a wealthy young businessman who consecutively falls in love with a classy English woman (Pearl), a Russian sculptress (Athalia), and a naive working-class girl (Lucie). Overpowered by weakness, the coward sidesteps the obligations that love affairs impose: rather than living up to his dates he takes his sports-car from an ultra-modern garage and speeds to the fashionable beaches of Deauville. On his way, he is fatally hit by a descending swallow. The film is divided into three segments each of which consists of events the woman experienced. These sequences are embedded in scenes in which each of the three women is telling and casting her mind back to her own love affair. Thus, present, future and past merge and cannot be distinguished clearly. The intertwinement of several layers of time experience, recollection, telling and showing have been regarded as a source of inspiration of Alain Resnais and this film prefigures his "L'Année ... Written by
Hans Winter <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Stories within stories, fictions passing as real, mysterious life as this overlap of fictions recounted by some disembodied narrator; so much that is great in film, especially French film, has come from these notions. It has always been about dislocating us from the safely entrenched world of reason and knowledge, placing us on the other side of the mirror so that the apparent causalities that we understand as real are inverted, thus reflected, in the mind.
So the dreamy, oblique narratives make sense - they transport inside the imaginative mind weaving the stories. This is an early example of this kind of film, perhaps thin in the individual pieces, but worthy of time.
So, we have three stories, about three women loving the same man who doesn't reciprocate. None of them safely real, concrete, but vagueries shaped by a collective time and memory. Recounted by the women to characters on-screen, by the narrator to us. The subjective camera that ripples through the screen, now crossfading, now superimposing, is neither ours nor theirs then, it is not a surreal device, but rather attached to that very dislocation intrinsic in the act of narrating.
There is an bevy of then avantgarde technique used in this, which we now have termed as impressionist, a few individual shots from inside a moving car that are pretty astounding, but it's certainly no Menilmontant in the grand scheme.
The rest is in the finale. Oh, we see the man, the cruel puppetmaster toying with romantically wistful beings meet an inscrutable fate. But it seems like the wish-fulfillment, thus magical fantasy, of the wronged, possibly vengeful women. It is rendered with some imagery of dizzying motion that you should experience if you're looking for great images from the silent era. What really matters though is the final shot; the man disappearing in the mirror of fictions, whence everything has sprang from.
It's not an entirely successful project overall. Perhaps because each of the individual vignettes is its own simple world and they don't coalesce to form some meaningful pattern. But you can see how Resnais - where great French cinema is later revitalized - might have been influenced.
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