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Ramparts of Clay (1971)
"Remparts d'argile" (original title)

GP  -  Drama  -  7 February 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 56 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 2 critic

In 1962, change comes to a Tunisian village on the edge of the Sahara. An entrepreneur sets up a salt mine, hiring village men. When he pays only half the wages agreed upon, they sit down ... See full summary »


(adaptation), (book)
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Title: Ramparts of Clay (1971)

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Credited cast:
Leila Shenna ...
Yong Woman
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In 1962, change comes to a Tunisian village on the edge of the Sahara. An entrepreneur sets up a salt mine, hiring village men. When he pays only half the wages agreed upon, they sit down in a field of rocks. The boss calls the army, who encircle the strikers. The women watch, sacrifice a sheep, pray, ululate. During the second night, a young woman hides the bucket and rope of the town's well to keep water from the army. The strike galvanizes her: she's learning to read and has studied a city woman who visits the village. Now, as she removes her traditional dress and rejects a ritual to cast out her new rebellious spirit, will she gain independence as did Tunisia and the strikers? Written by <>

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based on book | See All (1) »










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7 February 1971 (USA)  »

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Ramparts of Clay  »

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With or without a voice -over
24 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

IMPORTANT:the two precedent users have probably seen the original 1969 version the soundtrack of which is minimal.The movie seems to have been restored in 2002 (?) :it features now a voice-over (Bertucelli himself)which never stops from the beginning till the end.It's at once an advantage and a disadvantage:the two posters made a very good depiction of the sounds ,and the new version spoils them a bit.

On the other hand,Bertucelli literally explains the making of his movie:he had to film in Algeria cause the book was forbidden in Tunisia ,some of the parts were played by members of his crew(the schoolteacher),the Army only provides him with a vehicle and uniforms,he had to hire the inhabitants of a neighboring village.He explains almost every shot ,how he filmed it,the mistakes he made,you name it..

"Remparts d'argile" (=ramparts of clay),what a beautiful title!The strength and the weakness :Bertucelli justifies his choice too.He tells us his movie is first a documentary ;then halfway it turns into a fiction (actually it's still reality).It's almost as good as Bunuel's "los hurdes" (1932) .

But whereas the people of the poor Spanish village were not able to revolt ,"remparts d'argile" is the story of a double rebellion:

1.Rebellion of the men abetted by women .They refuse the starvation wage which the man in suit (almost an extra-terrestrial in this context;he is played by the only professional actor of the whole film;Bertucelli tells us he was at the time a very popular comic(!) actor)gives them.

2.Much more important:Rima's rebellion.She was an outcast in the village because to be an orphan seemed to be a curse.When she lets the pail fall into the well,she turns back on superstition,religion,all that prevents people from becoming emancipated.She did not learn to read in vain:she was taught by a kid,cause she had be banned from school.

Ramparts of clay ,indeed ,which begin to crack.

"Remparts d'argile" is a very ambitious work,easily the best the director has ever done.Sometimes I wonder if it's the same man who made "docteur Françoise Gailland".Had Bertucelli continued in that vein (of "remparts d'argile,of course) ,he might have revolutionized the FRench cinema.

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