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I'm not very knowledgeable about Rene Clair other than seeing the outstanding 'And Then There Were None' from 1945, but the title and plot sounded interesting so I picked this one up and was very nicely surprised.
The film deals with a man named Julien who is in love with a woman and wants to marry her. However, the woman's father, who is a famous statesman, is being blackmailed by another suitor and forces his daughter to marry him instead. The father is understanding to his daughter, but simply cannot let the blackmail information get out to the public. Julien, meanwhile takes a night out to the Moulin Rouge and being alone and depressed, encounters a strange doctor who takes him to his home and performs an experiment on him. This experiment frees his soul from his body and Julien's newly liberated soul takes aim at playing around Paris doing such things as driving cars, burning newspapers out of peoples' hands and rearranging top hats on a sidewalk, all under the guise of being invisible to the naked eye. It is not long, though, before Julien's comatose body is discovered, the doctor is arrested for murder. Julien then begins to miss his beloved girlfriend and has to save the doctor to get himself back to his body.
A wonderful sense of playfulness dictates this film. The editing in the exciting finale is outstanding. It's a tense, and fun ending even though we know what will happen. The fantasy elements are well-done, as the man's spirit can do so many limitless acts such as hover over cars driving down the streets. The comedy is very silly and incorporates well with the story even in the more serious moments. It's an impressive film for 1924 and I'm certainly more interested in picking up more of Clair's other works through the period.
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