During the Franco-Prussian war, inside a small wagon, a group of people are travelling through occupied France from Rouen to Havre on business. The little party includes a wine merchant and a factory owner together with their wives, a count and a countess, two nuns and an old bachelor; even war does not discourage these nine French patriots from their journey.
Since they left Rouen in a hurry at dawn there was no time for breakfast and without any provisions for the trip, the travelers soon get hungry and cranky. They are joined by Frau Boule-de-suif (played by Frau Elizabeth Rousset ) who has suffered an accident on the road with her cart. The wine merchant immediately recognizes her as a member of the world's oldest profession, a hussy as they call her. The travelers scorn her until she produces food enough for a week. That makes them quickly forget their prejudices.
They all stop at a hotel to rest but a Prussian officer, who demands their papers, also recognizes Frau Boule-de-suif and insists that she become his mistress. Since our heroine hates Prussians, she refuses but the officer tells her the entourage will be not allowed to continue on their journey unless she changes her mind.
"Pyshka", was the first film directed by Herr Mikhail Romm in the late year ( regarding silent films ) of 1934; based on Herr Guy de Maupassant's novel, the film is a splendid and ironic portrait of how supposedly strong convictions can be ignored or betrayed when other powerful earthy and selfish interests appear.
It is a sharp study about hypocrisy. Herr Romm brilliantly shows these human contradictions and betrayed principles and depicts in detailed close-ups the peculiar personalities of the different travelers in their close quarters (a small wagon and a hotel). This is not a very easy task but it is accomplished thanks to excellent actors, beautiful art direction and splendid cinematography. The final irony is that strong convictions like honor and patriotism can fall by the wayside when human weaknesses such as hunger or greed rear their heads.. The travelers are hypocrites in spite of their pious beliefs and only Frau Boul-de-suif is honest. She will suffer for her sincerity because her companions are pursuing their own interests and will forget and despise her again once their aims have been accomplished.
"Pyshka" is a great film about hypocrisy and selfishness and a brilliant adaptation of Herr Maupassant's literary work thanks to Herr Romm and the brilliant cinematography, ja wohl!.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must join such peculiar frenchified little party.
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