While its title may suggest some ghastly globalised version of the Eurovision Song Contest, in fact this Marcel Camus film has a great deal in common with his 1959 Oscar-winning hit Black Orpheus. Gorgeous colour photography, a prettily melodic score and a resounding lack of any dramatic or cinematic skills.
Judging from these two films, Camus had no aptitude for anything other than sentimentalising the 'quaint' lifestyles of 'primitive' folk. Le Chant du Monde is a melodrama about feuding peasant clans in the wilds of Provence, but it's hard to care which of the two families wipes out the other. Could they not kill each other off simultaneously, so we could all go home?
As the outsider hero who gets dragged into the feud, Hardy Kruger bears a well-nigh unwatchable resemblance to Kenneth Branagh. As the 'good' patriarch, Charles Vanel overdoes his loveable-old-codger routine till you want to scream. More fun is to be had from the Romeo-and-Juliet-style lovers, played by a smoulderingly handsome Andre Lawrence and a flamboyantly sultry Marilu Tolo.
Amid this orgy of scenery-chomping, Catherine Deneuve adds a much-needed note of class and restraint as a blind orphan. (Kruger stumbles across her in the forest, giving birth to an illegitimate baby - her make-up and coiffure more suited to a Vogue fashion shoot.) Her role, alas, is too small to have much impact. She may be the most stylishly groomed peasant in screen history.
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