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Hôtel des Invalides (1952)

A tour of the Hotel des Invalides, and more particularly of the Army Museum and the Saint Louis Chapel. From François I's armor to Guynemer's airplane, to Napoleon's and Marshall Foch's ... See full summary »

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A tour of the Hotel des Invalides, and more particularly of the Army Museum and the Saint Louis Chapel. From François I's armor to Guynemer's airplane, to Napoleon's and Marshall Foch's tombs. But this is no ordinary tour,it is rather a chilling visit guided by Georges Franju and narrated by Michel Simon emphasizing - at times through biting humor -not the glory but the nonsense of wars, but their tragic aftermath. Written by Guy Bellinger

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1952 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Der Invalidendom  »

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1.37 : 1
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Slaughterhouse museum
24 April 2009 | by See all my reviews

Franju had been making shorts for more than ten years before he broached the feature film in 1959 with his debut "La Tête Contre Les Murs" .With the exception of "Les yeux Sans Visage" his shorts are more famous around the world ,particularly "Le Sang Des Bêtes" (1948) Two years later,"Hotel des Invalides' is in a way more of the same:it's no longer the blood of the beasts ,it's the human blood ,this blood which was shed in interminable wars .Franju's is not one of these documentaries you watch respectfully: it's a committed work .

IT looks like an academic short;it begins with the historic facts:Louis the Fourteenth ,the Sun King wanted a place for his old campaigners to rest and to end their life .Today ,the Invalides are the army museum,but Franju and the voice over (provided by none other than Michel Simon!)make it some kind of chamber of horrors .His camera makes the dome of the monument,in the distance, as disturbing as the slaughterhouse he depicted two years before.When a pair of lovers are playing with a canon,the voice remarks :"don't they know it means death and destruction?" or something like that.The way Franju films the armors (even one child's armor )gives the jitters.

In the rooms of the museum devoted to WW1,Franju interrupts the visit and scenes of WW1 in the trenches are edited in ;it ends with the casualties of war figures:one man out of 27 people in France.

The end of the visit may look like,to some , nice,as a group of children sings the old folk song "Auprès De Ma Blonde" .These children are "Enfants De Troupe" (Children reared by the army)-see for that matter Yves Boisset's movie "Allons Z'Enfants" -:fortunately, it does not exist anymore ,for these children were cannon fodder .And whey they sing the line "Et Ma Jolie Colombe Qui Chante Jour et Nuit" (=and my sweet dove who's singing day and night)we can ask to ourselves "how many seas must a white dove sail/before she sleeps in the sand? "(Bob Dylan) "Aupres De Ma Blonde" was written at the beginning of the eighteenth century,during the wars in Holland under the Sun King's reign.We've come full circle.


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