Nowadays,the simple name of Jean-Paul LeChanois is guaranteed to net nothing but horse-laugh from the highbrows,the "true" movie buffs and of course the afficionados of the indomitable nouvelle vague.
Le Chanois 's work is humanist ,optimistic and does not deserve contempt and disdain:he's only a good storyteller:a directing virtuoso,he's definitely not.A "deep" auteur ,he isn't either.But he has got other qualities:simplicity,spontaneity,and a friendly look at human condition and a real faith in his improvement.
In "l'école buissonnière",long before Comencini ,Truffaut and Tavernier,he urges the teachers to ditch purely theorical training and to teach the children by "doing" ,visiting,experimenting and of course living.It pitted a young schoolteacher(Blier)against a bunch of country reactionary notables:this character was none other than Celestin Freinet who spawned a whole new school of teachers in France and elsewhere.
"Le cas du docteur Laurent" is similar:here a not-so-young doctor (Gabin)tries to explain to women of the fifties(in a small village in the mountain) that painless childbirth is possible,and that the old curses -coming from long ago and far away,check the Genesis-must go.He will meet with macho men,but also submissive women-who will be his strongest enemies-,who still thinks that "the more you suffer,the more you love your baby".To fight such drivel,doctor Laurent expresses himself in astute images.We 've got to realize that what is obvious today was a big revolution then.
The best scene,when the women drive a bus thru the mountain,singing from the bottom of their heart is one of the very first manifesto of women's lib in the French cinema.It may seem naive,passé,but it had to be done at the time.
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