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Between the two mountains
23 March 2008
Except for Dita Parlo ("La Grande Illusion" "Au Bonheur des Dames"
"L'Atalante" )all the cast has sunk into oblivion.The film itself was
restored in 1995 to excellent results.The pictures are splendid
,depicting mountains landscapes and cloudy skies and colorful villages
with an exceptional talent.This is one of the most underrated films of
the thirties;few people know it.I remember watching it about a decade
ago and at the time I did not realize how much this was new,unusual,in
a word ,ground-breaking.
Two villages ,on the two sides of the mountain.Because they have killed
his dog ,but because he desires the pretty Elsi , Firmin abducts her ,a
girl from the "other" village.
The film is extremely erotic,from Firmin crawling on the ground to
catch the girl to Elsi taking the crucifix down and replacing it by a
mirror which will reflect her topless body.Never Parlo was so sensual
and so attractive than here .She is not the damsel in distress the
audience expects.Her kid brother died when he was desperately searching
her and though Firmin is not really responsible for this death ,she
wants to take revenge on him.The scene when she reads the letter and
she learns the tragic event with the one-legged hawker shouting "
presents for your fiancée! ribbons! scissors!needles!threads!" is
Sexual symbols abound;sometimes we think of Luis Bunuel:this director
would have loved the scene of the crucifix.Presence of the water
flowing where Jeanne ,the former fiancée of Firmin is praying while her
village is on fire where her ex-fiancé and Elsi are both caught in
their own trap (the room where the boy locked up the girl;the village
idiot Elsi wanted to manipulate);the bees pollinating the flowers;the
idiot trying to caress Elsi's legs .One should note that the whole
village attends the service on Sunday but Elsi seems to be a pagan and
to contaminate her abductor.
The village idiot has got something of Luis Bunuel:crazy about Elsi,he
would do anything to sleep with her.But as a half-wit he is an outcast
in his own village and he is not part of the people who love or are
loved .He 's got to content himself with watching the puppets the
hawker brings to the inhabitants .
"Rapt" is a Russian-French production;in spite of the peaceful nature
,it's a story of love and hate ,full of sound and fury.The soundtrack
is exceptional,and the film itself can be looked upon as the missing
link between the silent era (Jeanne running on the road recalls the
pre-talkie era ;so do the wonderful depictions of the meadows ,of the
people themselves)and the talkies .On the other hand,the sound is
astonishing,like,for instance ,during the storm where the winds raging
outside the house are given an unconventional unrealistic treatment.
Like this?try these.....
"The collector" William Wyler 1965
"La Drôlesse" Jacques Doillon 1979
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