There is so much of consequence on this forgotten movie that we enter territory where critical commentary becomes almost purely subjective ."La Septième Porte" is perhaps the French cinema's first step into the mystic .There were escape movies during the war ("La Nuit Fantastique" "Les Visiteurs Du Soir" "L'Eternel Retour" ) but all those dealt with impossible romantic love ."La Septième Porte" is so bizarre a movie I cannot find any equivalent in the contemporary French cinema ,and I should simply say in the FRench cinema,period.
"Seven" before becoming the name of a famous thriller of the nineties has always been a magic number:the seven sins,the seven days ,the seven dwarfs ,the seven wives of Blue Beard,the seventh seal ,the list is endless...
"La Septième Porte " combines "the Thousand and One Nights" ,Pandora's box (and also Charles Perrault's "Blue Beard : the door you must not open)and a Buzattiesque philosophy.
An old man about to die gives all his fortune to a beggar he meets in an Arabian town.He takes him to his house (now his) and he strongly advises him not to open that seventh door."I could throw the key into the sea" said the young lad "No use,you'd dive to get it back" The young man opens the door.
I do not want to write spoilers so I will not tell what he finds behind.But I urge any connoisseur of the French cinema to give this work a chance ,particularly those who are still thinking that only the New Wave was creative.
Filmed in a black and white so dark ,so dark it's sometimes impossible to recognize the characters of the story.Only their eyes shine like diamonds in the secret life of Arabia.It's a fable ,a "Carpe Diem" philosophy,because ,if you do not make the best of what you got,your life has passed you by and you haven't even realized it.
This is not a perfect movie:some elements sound too "French" and somewhat spoil the exotic magic of the atmosphere .But it is so different from what the French cinema was between WW2 and the N.W. it would be a pity to miss this sleeper .
Like this ? try this.....
"Il Deserto Dei Tartari" Valerio Zurlini,1976
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