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A Room in Town (1982)

Une chambre en ville (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Musical | 27 October 1982 (France)
A film musical in which every line is sung. The frame is about workers during a strike. They also prepare and perform a demonstration. Two personal relations develop against this background... See full summary »

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2 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Edith Leroyer
...
Margot Langlois
Richard Berry ...
François Guilbaud
...
Edmond Leroyer
Fabienne Guyon ...
Violette Pelletier
Anna Gaylor ...
Madame Pelletier
Jean-François Stévenin ...
Dambiel
Jean-Louis Rolland ...
Ménager
Marie-France Roussel ...
Mme Sforza
Georges Blaness ...
Chef des CRS
Yann Dedet ...
Ouvrier
Nicolas Hossein ...
Ouvrier
Gil Warga ...
Ouvrier
Antoine Mikola ...
Ouvrier
Marie-Pierre Feuillard ...
Femme à l'enfant
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Storyline

A film musical in which every line is sung. The frame is about workers during a strike. They also prepare and perform a demonstration. Two personal relations develop against this background. François abandons his pregnant girlfriend Violette. She feels treated even more unjust when he tries to defend and excuse his behaviour. He had met a very beautiful over-class girl, Edith, and both were immediately overwhelmed by genuine and reciprocal passion. Edith lived in a very unsatisfactory marriage. She was the daughter of the widow from which François rented his room. Nevertheless, he met her in the street, where she just opened her fur coat and was starch naked under it. They will be together in great passion for just one night and day. At the demonstration François is shot by the police and dies in Edith's arms. - The music is closer to opera than in any other film musical by Jacques Demy. But the greatest difference is that he has devoted much more effort to the task of instructing the... Written by Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

27 October 1982 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A Room in Town  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (restored version)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Jacquot de Nantes (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Violette Amoureuse
Written and Performed by Michel Colombier Et Son Orchestre
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User Reviews

 
A Highly Underrated Film Musical
29 July 2004 | by (Stockholm, Sweden) – See all my reviews

'Une chambre en ville' was thoroughly underrated from the start. In 1982 audiences no longer favoured tragic movies. BUT WHY? A generation earlier television had strongly reduced the audience of the cinemas. But television had NOT changed the taste. Video had a more profound influence. Take a standard situation. A group is watching a video which may evoke strong emotions in some of the spectators. Suddenly another catches the remote control, rewinds the movie and makes some comment (e.g., 'Girls should never have such a coiffure'). Repeated exposure to experiences of this kind may reduce the capacity for becoming emotionally aroused by movies. - Note that this is a recent development. It is easy to assemble a list of 100 very tragic movies produced 1935-1965, which at that time were highly appreciated by the average film-goer. I am even convinced that the average film-goer of this period would have loved contemporary movies such as 'Stormy Weather' (by Solveig Anspach) and 'Les diables' (by Christophe Ruggia).

If your aim is not emotional experience, you are likely to be disappointed by 'Une chambre en ville', despite its excellent merits. But please note that my review is one-sided and might be misleading. I intend to say much about the music, and shall reduce all other aspects to the bare minimum. What is the plot? Workers are striking. During a demonstration one of them (Francois) is shot by the police. He dies in the arms of his beloved (Edith). But only one day earlier he had abandoned his pregnant girlfriend (Violette), because he had met a very beautiful over-class girl. Francois and Edith were immediately overwhelmed by genuine and reciprocal passion.

Even among film musicals it is infrequent that every line is sung. Hence, it is natural to compare 'Une chambre en ville' with 'Les parapluis de Chèrbourg'. Jacques Demy directed both. But different composers (Michel Colombier and Michel Legrand) wrote the music. I think both got the manuscript most suitable for their specific talent.

The music of 'Une chambre' differs from that of 'Les parapluis' foremost in three respects. Without ceasing to be real film music, it is more introverted, and it is closer to opera music. But the largest difference is the director's relation to the singers.

Whenever two persons sing simultaneously in 'Les parapluis', you can clearly perceive the words of each. Also, simultaneous singing never transgresses the kind of dialogues that may be found in purely spoken theatre. By contrast, 'Une chambre' contains a real duet: the loving couple sings the same text together in parallel sixths; a device clearly borrowed from the opera. - - - To avoid misunderstanding as regards my next point: numerous great composers have borrowed melodies or other things from each other. Borrowing is not a fault if the borrowed thing is used for new purposes. Since 'Une chambre' finishes with a love scene in which one of the couple dies, it is not far-fetched to associate to Wagner's 'Tristan and Isolde'. During the final scene of the movie the main musical theme is presented for the fourth time, and this time with new accompanying melodies played by the orchestra. Rightly or wrongly, I think that these melodies are to some extent inspired by Wagner's opera (bar 63-73 of the overture).

Any competent musical conductor would tell the singers to take some impression of the mood of the text. But the soundtrack of 'Les parapluis' never differs much from a neutral performance. Hence, it is hardly possible to decide whether or not Jacques Demy actually directed the singers before the soundtrack was made. But in 'Une chambre' it could hardly be more manifest that Demy has devoted as much direction to the singers as to the actors seen on the screen. From Violette's singing voice alone, no one could mistake her distress when Francois abandons her, and her feeling of being treated unjust when Francois tries to excuse his behaviour. - - - Suppose you do not understand French, and that you are listening to the soundtracks of both movies without seeing the pictures. You will nevertheless have a fair chance of correctly perceiving the emotions of many scenes of 'Une chambre'. You will be much less successful with 'Les parapluis'.


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