A seasoned detective is called in to rescue a politician held hostage by a lunatic. In a brief moment of uncertainty, he misses the chance for action. Leaving his job and family without ... See full summary »
Mary, a poor farm girl, meets Tim just as word comes that war has been declared. Tim enlists in the army and goes to the battlefields of Europe, where he is wounded and loses the use of his... See full summary »
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
An anguished foster child takes to mischief and lies as his foster parents do their best to love and care for him. But it might be too little, too late in this emotionally devastating portrayal of the orphaned child.
Two sketches covering episodes from the World War II. In the first novel, "Scherzo alla polacca", a shrewd son, trying to preserve his skin, ultimately becomes a hero and finds a reason for... See full summary »
A play within a play within a play within a play. Actors perform a play in a house, an audience member invites them to work in his own home improvising a play around his own life. The line between fiction and reality blur.
Carmen is a member of a terrorist gang who falls in love with a young police officer guarding a bank that she and her cohorts try to rob. She leads him on while dragging the two of them ... See full summary »
This film is about Gils, a young boy (about ten) in a juvenile mental hospital in 1950's France. Flashbacks recount his conflicts with authority and his strong relationship with Jessica, a ... See full summary »
A study of minor events in the adolescence of a boy growing up in small towns. Daniel lives with his grandmother and, after one year of high school, has to go to live with his mother in the... See full summary »
This film tells a story spanning three generations, from 1871 to 1945. After the farmer's son, Gustav Wengler, returns from the Franco-German war in 1871, he goes to work in a precision ... See full summary »
Set in the French countryside during the Great War of 1914-18 Pialat's extraordinary seven episode TV serial extends the themes of his debut feature L'Enfance Nue, the director however having much more freedom and time to explore the nature of childhood and the impact on children abandoned by their parents. The series focuses on the experiences of three children (including even Michel Tarrazon, the young star of the earlier movie) living out in the country with gamekeeper Albert and Maman Jeanne on the country estate of a Marquis. The gamekeeper and his wife have their own older children, Marcel and Marguerite, but the three boys have been sent there by their parents who have been caught up in the war, the fathers called up to the front, the mothers simply unable to look after them in the present climate.
Pialat would claim that La Maison des Bois was his best work, and it's not difficult to see why he would think so, the director having unprecedented freedom to direct his vision - so unlike anything else in conventional French cinema let alone television shows of the period - over an inexperienced crew, and indulge his technique over 6 hours of long naturalistic takes where very little of importance seems to happen. It's certainly a bit rough around the edges in a lot of places, but simple and unostentatious, always finding the truth in the moment. Long sections of entire episodes are given over to extended scenes of picnics or of the family and children bathing outdoors in a bathtub, and particularly children playing, the director managing to capture in them the rhythms of life and the warmth of family relationships. When the real drama of the war and family loss does intrude into their lives, it is then done with subtlety and has all the more impact, the pain seeming to be felt by real people with real lives.
The theme of lost children is consequently also extended out to those young boys sent to die in the trenches, Pialat achieving the full import of the situation on the community without actually having to go to the front, contrasting for example the picnic on Episode 3 with a bivouac in Episode 4, and in a sinister war game played by the children that is a premonition of the death to come. Even the joy of the Armistice at the star of Episode 6 is tempered with the incredibly poignant and sad scenes of the children's return to Paris. Pialat's later films would delve deeper into life, love, death and relationships but they are all here to some extent in La Maison des Bois, with the same sense of complete authenticity, but seen very much here from the perspective of a young child.
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