|Index||4 reviews in total|
I saw this film in early 1955 at the Golden Bough Theater in Carmel CA. I was a GI stationed in Monterey, studying Russian in the Army Language School. The film simply poleaxed me. It offered Edwige as the ultimate "older Continental Woman" and a deliriously gorgeous young woman in competition over a young French nerd even less knowing and commanding as anyone in my cohort. Later, in European Military Intelligence, I met a few kindred who had seen La Ble en Herbe. Their reaction was identical to mine. Yet it is impossible to see it today. Why? I hear that Autant-Lara and his star were considered politically embarrassing. And that it was not in the aesthetic line of Godard and Truffaut. Now really: who cares? When you see the garbage that is now given superb DVD immortality -- how can this film be denied even VHS recognition of its existence? I remain furious over the disappearance of this film.
I must agree with this previous reviewer. As a Freshman student at NYU Washington Square I spent more time in the local "art" cinemas than I did in the classroom. This film did more than anything else to direct me on my future path and I'm not sure why. I'd really like to see this film again. To make a long story short, I dropped out of NYU, went to France as a GI, and returned to NYU to earn a PhD in French literature. It was a toss-up between film-making and the academic track for me in those days. My 17 year old French bride incarnated the French cinema scene for me and I follow it ever since. Somehow this film captures an essential spark of life.
We're definitely on the fringe of 'classic' country here. A screenplay by those two masters Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost adapting in turn a novel by Colette, direction by Claude Autant-Lara and in the lead role the legendary Edwige Feuillere, a combination just made to upset Francois Truffaut and needle him into throwing his toys out of his pram. Tough, Francois; too bad you didn't take a closer look at how the big boys do it before inflicting your juvenilia on us. But enough of poseurs let's get down to the nitty-gritty. Watching today it seems incredible that at the time (1954) this caused something of a scandal dealing as it does with love, to say nothing of sex, between a callow teenager and the effortlessly elegant, chic, sophisticated and dare I say it, beautiful and luminescent Feuillere. Questions do occur, mostly why, when she is all these things, is Feuillere actually available for teenage initiation, why isn't she fending off at least a dozen admirers, and why does she pick on someone as unprepossessing, gauche and scrawny as Philippe (Pierre-Michel Beck) and, if it comes to that, how come someone as nerdish as Beck has a delectable girlfriend of more or less his own age in the shape of Vinca (Nicole Berger). Ultimately it doesn't matter because the combination of great writing, direction and acting from 'the lady in white' make this a movie to treasure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*mild spoilers ahead*
A very beautiful Vinca (Nicole Berger ) is in love with the young "Phil"... I'd like to be that boy :)
They meet every summer for Holiday, at the seaside, where their respective parents rent the same house.
They know each other since childhood, and the boy is just 16, only one year older than the girl.
The fact is, they aren't children anymore...
That's the start of the story...
A mature woman is soon involved, superb Edwige Feuillère...
This is a kind of reductive presentation, let's say I'm not very good at that...
Anyway the film is developed with quiet an elegant sensitivity, without showing much,
most of what is "supposed to happen" is just suggested...
and yet I was not born in 1954, that it was a scandal when it came out doesn't surprise me...
You have to remember that before the mid 60, the sense of decency was quiet rigorous, and that a lot of topics were "tabu" !
At the extreme opposite of what is happening now, in most what is called "the advanced or civilized world".
Back to the film : I enjoyed it a lot..
The acting of the three protagonists have the proper tones...
With that psychological study of human nature, about the discovery of love/hate relations,
the right touch on every thing, Autant-Lara made a beautiful and elegant film.
May be not a masterpiece, but not very far away !
8,5 would be more appropriate, but for what it is : 10/10 certainly too generous, but who likes doesn't count !
A film is never really good unless the camera is an eyes in the head of a poet Orson Welles
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