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Edmond Van Daële,
Recently restored ,"L'Or Des Mers ",when it was released ,came too late ;the Synchro -Ciné process was stillborn in the world of the talkies .
The cast and credits tell us so :the movie was entirely filmed on location on an island on the coast of Brittany ,then dubbed in studio . A short prologue depicts the miserable life of the people there ,who starve half of the year ;we are not far from Bunuel's "las Hurdes" ,which was released the same year .
There the comparison ends ;"L'Or Des Mers" is a fiction,a rather simplistic fable that shows that the real gold is not to be found in a coffer found in the sea.
An old man,the last ,lonely and wretched person of the island,despised by everyone around ,finds a strange box which might contain a treasure:the villagers become friendly but their kindness is only a facade ;one of them wants his boy to marry the old man's daughter provided she brings him the gold .
The story is slow,and terribly derivative ;the most interesting is the documentary side:those people seem to live in Victor Hugo's "Les Pauvres Gens " time :nothing surfaces from the French civilization of the thirties:no radio,no newspapers,not even a book .The children who laugh at the old man behind his window,do not seem to have a school ;it's an illiterate world .
This movie is very different from what the French directors used to do in the early thirties and was doomed from the beginning:the problem is that Epstein probably wavered between pure documentary and fiction;the former ,as Bunuel did in "Las Hurdes" would have certainly been better.
Like this? Try these .....
" Finnis Terrae" (Epstein,1929) "La Femme Du Bout Du Monde " (Epstein,1937) "Dieu A Besoin Des Hommes " (Delannoy,1950) "Eaux troubles" (Calef ,1949)
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