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Lucien Coedel kills for gold, but he has much more in mind
"Sortileges" is a crime melodrama, not a horror story. It is actually a film noir in an unusual setting and told with terrific melodramatic flair and unsettling memorable images.
The main players are Lucien Coedel, the bellman who lives alone in the snowy rural setting of the story. Visiting him at the outset is Fabret (Fernand Ledoux), who is a bit addled and has a lovely daughter on the wispy and frail side, Catherine (Renee Faure), whom Coedel plots to have for himself. She is competing for the love of Pierre (Roger Pigaut) against a well-off older woman, Marthe (Madeleine Robinson), the most intense actor in the cast. The story begins with Coedel's murder (with a stone) of a horse trader, which sets free a black stallion that roams through the snow and the village terrifying the people as it gallops. The bellman loves to frighten the superstitious people with rituals and spells and goad them. He busily casts suspicion on Fabret by giving him some of the horse trader's gold.
Many of the scenes are impressive, with black-clothed figures seen against the snow. There is a village festival dance that is beautifully staged and intertwined with the plot.
Really a marvelous film.
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