Near the Baie de la Seine swamps, opposite the Port of Le Havre, Auguste Maroilleur, an elderly farmer, exploits 400 hectares of crop land with the help of his family, over which he rules ...
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Near the Baie de la Seine swamps, opposite the Port of Le Havre, Auguste Maroilleur, an elderly farmer, exploits 400 hectares of crop land with the help of his family, over which he rules with an iron hand. Things go awry the day he discovers one of his grandsons is involved in drug traffic. To make matters worse, the reckless youth has hidden the white powder in the Maroilleur farm. Without a moment's hesitation, Auguste gets rid of the toxic substance but, of course, the mob has different views... Written by
"La Horse" (1970) is a neo-noir, appearing on critic John Grant's extensive list. I watched a widescreen copy with English subtitles that ran 77 minutes. This is an excellent movie that provides insights about values and order relating to the individual, the family and the broader society and state. It raises questions about these and takes a stand in how it resolves them. The story and screenplay are very good as are the acting and cinematography.
The world of the movie is a large farm and farm family headed by Gabin. Authority is not divided or shared by him. He's the final word on what goes, the sovereign. The outside world is not his moral arbiter, and he doesn't rely upon it for protection or moral values, only for exchange. His unsettled grandson brings the outside world into the farm by hiding a bag of heroin for a gang of 5 Mafia-type drug dealers. Gabin finds this and destroys it. The gang wants it back, and it will probably kill the grandson. Gabin vows to protect the boy. He assumes responsibility for what his family member has done. The gang sends one of their members and he makes many threats that Gabin cannot abide. This leads to a war between Gabin as leader of his family and the Mafia types. The police come into it because of violent events on the farm whose traces, such as smoke, dead animals and a car explosion, can be seen and heard by neighbors. Gabin then has to lead his family in dealing with the interference of the state's authorities.
Within this suspenseful plot, the story makes a case for traditional and unchanging family values and organization. The family honor is at stake. No family member has ever been exposed as a criminal or been in prison. The state's justice system is errant, slow, spotty, unreliable and that of others, not the family. The film rejects the modern values that are represented by the world of drugs. It rejects the depersonalization of the state, in which one becomes a number and a citizen, no longer a person with his or her own values. It rejects the attractions of frivolous city matters.
Gabin's family pays a price for maintaining the grandson in the family's bosom. While he matures under the experience and accepts the farm and the family, a granddaughter has been raped. The story doesn't propose that life is not without tragedy.
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