6.5/10
181
6 user 4 critic

A Human Condition (1974)

Humain, trop humain (original title)
A documentary with almost no words following the production of Citroen cars at a plant in Northern France and their later sales.
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A documentary with almost no words following the production of Citroen cars at a plant in Northern France and their later sales.

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3 April 1974 (France)  »

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Human, Too Human  »

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Good, but too long
8 December 2006 | by (Trivandrum, Kerala, India) – See all my reviews

This documentary is an interesting look at the people who work on the assembly lines of French automobile factories.

To the credit of cinematographer Etienne Becker and director Louis Malle, several details of the assembly line, the input of each worker, the body movements (lilt of a heel or the pouting of lips) are captured honestly and seemingly unobtrusively. To Malle's credit, the sound is limited to production sound--the workers seem to be mute. Voices invade the film once during the segment on the sale of the cars to customers at a car show.

Malle's film, screened as part of a Malle retrospective at the 11th International Film Festival of Kerala, is a veiled comment on automation and its effects on people. The film ends with a frozen shot of a woman worker absorbed in the life within the factory. The life outside seems to be deliberately snipped off--but we know it exists. Malle was probably stating that human beings are getting to be dehumanized and living the life of "an assembly line." That said, the film could have said the same things in a third of the total run-time. Compare Malle's film to Bert Hanstra's documentary on glass blowers called "Glas" (1958). Made 16 years before "Humain, trop humain", Bert Haanstra's work, which uses music, is far superior to this one on a somewhat similar subject.


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