During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German POW camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
This tale centers around the love between Baptiste, a theater mime, and Claire Reine, an actress and otherwise woman-about-town who calls herself Garance. Garance, in turn, is loved by three other men: Frederick, a pretentious actor; Lacenaire, a conniving thief; and Count Edouard of Montray. The story is further complicated by Nathalie, an actress who is in love with Baptiste. Garance and Baptiste meet when Garance is falsely accused of stealing a man's watch. Garance is forced to enter the protection of Count Edouard when she is innocently implicated in a crime committed by Lacenaire. In the intervening years of separation, both Garance and Baptiste become involved in loveless relationships with the Count and Nathalie, respectively. Baptiste is the father of a son. Returning to Paris, Garance finds that Baptiste has become a famous mime actor. Nathalie sends her child to foil their meeting, but Baptiste and Garance manage one night together. Lacenaire murders Edouard. In the last ... Written by
kevin kraynak <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A large number of members of the French Resistance worked on this film's crew, as Nazi power was at its peak in France and these fighters needed concealing. See more »
In the outdoor market scene, the amount of food laid out on the tables varies from shot to shot. The reason is that the extras were famished from years of wartime food rationing, and stole food whenever they were not closely watched. See more »
It's one of the best films ever made and one of my favourite films, although the first time I attempted to see it at 14 years old in 1973 I didn't understand it at all. I tried again four years older and it won me over. Personal tastes vary not only between people but within people over time. Nowadays I can't understand why some people can't understand it and get nothing from this timeless world classic - at the very least they could look upon it as the closest the French cinema ever got to Dickens.
Meandering tale set in 1840's France has whimsically smiling Garance played by Arletty in love with mime artist Baptiste played perfectly by Jean-Louis Barrault but with three other men in love with her too. These are the Dramatic Actor Lemaitre played by Pierre Brasseur (Lucien from Le Quai Des Brumes), the cynically corrupt Lacenaire by Marcel Herrond (Renaud from Les Visiteurs Du Soir) and stiffly possessive Montray by Louis Salou. With Maria Casares as the faithful Nathalie the trouper in love with Baptiste and you have the main cast for your delectation. Just as the characters in the plays at the Funambules depended upon the pleasure of the audience up in "the Gods" so do the actors on the screen although now thanks to TV and DVD us people up in the Gods are a lot more distant! The main thread is how and why all the tangled love affairs unravel. The film is littered with eccentric characters and heavy poetic observations, backed up with a logical plot, incredible sets and unforgettable acting all made under the Nazi occupation. Adversity often heightens the senses, but Carne and Prevert excelled themselves with this production. Favourite bits: Baptiste proving Garrance's innocence of stealing a watch in mime to the assembled crowd; the touchy scenes inside the aptly-named Robin Redbreast pub; Garance and Lemaitre in the deeply shaded box at the Funambules watching Baptiste perform; his calling her beautiful and her response of "No, just alive, that's all"; Lemaitre revising the play in which he was acting on the stage; his opinion of mulled wine "Like God slipping down your throat in red velvet breeches"; Lacenaire's lacerated opinion of everything especially of Montray; the bookend bustling street scenes at the start and finish; the astounding ending; and on and on so much richness to see and hear in three hours!
It's a world portrayed in great detail and lovingly, done in the best French tradition: dreamy, full of poetry, a frisson of sex and a little violence. As with me, it may need a little patience to cultivate this particular flower, but if you allow it into your heart it will never leave you again. Definitely High Art!
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