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The Kidnapping (1934)

Rapt (original title)
Hans has killed the dog of Firmin, a shepherd. Wild with rage, Firmin kidnaps Elsi, Hans' fiancée and locks her up at his home. Hans, a peddler, vows to find the missing girl. This is what ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Elsi
...
Firmin
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joe Alex
Robert Bagger
Auguste Bovério ...
Mathias - le colporteur
Lucas Gridoux ...
Mânu - l'idiot
Hans Kaspar Ilg ...
Gottfried
Jeanne Marie-Laurent ...
La mère de Firmin
Charles Ferdinand Ramuz ...
Un villageois valaisan
Dyk Rudens ...
Hans
Nadia Sibirskaïa ...
Jeanne
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Storyline

Hans has killed the dog of Firmin, a shepherd. Wild with rage, Firmin kidnaps Elsi, Hans' fiancée and locks her up at his home. Hans, a peddler, vows to find the missing girl. This is what he does and he manages, with the help of Mânu, the village idiot, to give Elsi a letter. On seeing her, the changeling falls in love at first sight with the young woman. Elsi soon realizes that Mânu can become her instrument of vengeance. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

11 August 1937 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Kidnapping  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First adaptation of a novel by C.F. Ramuz. See more »

Connections

Remade as Le rapt (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Two-worlds (the same wind blows back)
18 February 2016 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

Let me amend cinematic history and insert this among the finest of the decade. Had it come out in Hollywood, starring a Greta Garbo, it would have been among the classics that appear in lists instead of something so obscure that it has barely 100 votes as of this moment and not even the site algorithm fetches it by title.

The cinema on display is stunning. I posit that Kirsanoff had one of the most profound grasps of language at around this time, equal to that of a Kuleshov. Between this and Menilmontant he strikes me as a genuine master; but one who never quite managed to find fertile ground in which to grow roots and branch out his vision. A few decades later he might have been a Tarkovsky, this is how much esteem I have for him anyway.

Menilmontant was urbane, modern, fluid youthful life in motion in the big city that heaves and spills over from the inside out. This is something else entirely, pastoral, solid, earthy life in a small mountain village that trudges on irrevocably towards human catastrophe.

At first glance it appears that he was stifled here, that this might have been work he took on after not being able to get more personal things off the ground. Sound had rolled in, solidifying reality; objects and places now had to be as you would see them on a dull morning, instead of the dreamlike fluctuations we find in silents. But not if you keep watching.

The story is simple, like a tragic legend from the past of a small village that goes on as hearsay. A man who was wronged one morning and couldn't stop himself from wronging back thrice harder and the karmic cycle unleashed. Now he has stolen a beautiful blonde woman, someone's wife, and absconded with her to his own village on the other side of the mountain where he keeps her under lock and key.

We are given possible reasons for this deep-seated animosity that goes beyond what simply happened that morning. They're French speakers on this side, German on the other, and those were years with much anxiety bubbling between them, simmering over Versailles. Another reading would see him as a poor working hand for her husband, fed up with this life where he has to cross a mountain to work for someone else.

But what matters is that we have a tired face roughened by years of frustration. Baleful eyes. Whatever it is that pushed him over the edge now has taken shape. The wrong is plain to him, he would like to take her back home, but the mountain pass has been snowed and he will have to live through the life that he has set in motion around him.

This happens with the slow grind of inevitable catastrophe like in a film noir. Things grow unhinged in the small village as time passes. Inside the house is the distraught woman, locked up against her will. Outside is the man, oblivious of the karmic noose being threaded around him.

Two men act as instruments for trickster fate here, both outsiders. One is the crippled salesman who tricks his way into the room where she's kept; upon handing her a letter from her husband, she begins to conspire her own part in the noir plot, becoming a femme fatale who seduces more delusion out of him, feigning love that he's eager for.

The other is a dumb mute who is shunned by the whole village, finally unleashing fate in the stunning finale. But this is a karma that engulfs everyone; both him and her and the whole village that turned a blind eye to wrongdoing that was in plain sight of them. Billows of smoke engulf the village, the ignorance and delusion that obscure reality and create chimeras of emotion and desire.

The cinematic mastery for me is that we don't just have a gripping story. Everything here is replete with resonance. The man staring out a black window, winds blowing outside and echoed in the empty house during a storm. A bucket overflowing with water by a faucet left running; life that forgets to be mindful of itself, spent aimlessly. Sound had rolled in, but for Kirsanoff this is something to use as a way of sculpting echoes from beyond the walls of the story. Here's a silent maker who wasn't about to peter out with sound. The soundtrack is rich and detailed, clearly the result of much work. The effort is to be visual with the whole of the cinematic air.

The most powerful shot comes near the end, another girl who would have been his fiancé - Nadia Sibirskaia, the girl from Menilmontant - rushing back frantically to the village, only too late, to a life that won't be there when she comes. She had been there for him all this time.


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