Having just made 'Proces du Vatican' based on the life of Sainte-Therese de Lisieux, director Andre Haguet was the obvious choice to direct this film about Albert Schweitzer's extraordinary work in French Equitorial Africa. The title role, complete with moustache, is played by the great Pierre Fresnay whose stunning portrayal of Vincent de Paul in 'Monsieur Vincent' five years earlier would make this role a natural progression.
He captures brilliantly the intense spirituality and single-mindedness of the man, mainly through his eyes.
He has great support here from stalwart Jean Debucourt as Father Charles and from Jeanne Moreau as the nurse who assists him. Schweitzer was in fact assisted by his wife Helene but she is nowhere to be seen here presumably because the makers of the film considered the love-interest supplied by Nurse Marie and the two men who vie for her affections to be infinitely more appealing. This is a film after all!
Music supervision is by Maurice-Paul Guillot and what music it is! Saint-Saens and Franck are both featured here, both of whom were church organists. Marcel Dupre plays the organ and one of his pupils Raymond Druard the piano transcriptions of J.S.Bach. Schweitzer's adoration of Bach is well documented and he was no mean organist himself as his recordings testify. Coincidentally, at the time this film was made Marcel Dupre was titular organist at Saint-Sulpice in Paris. He was succeeded in that post by Jean-Jacques Grunenwald who just happened to write the score for....yes, you've guessed it, 'Monsieur Vincent'! This film has inaccuracies to be sure and is not a classic by any means but the performances are excellent and we are overcome with admiration for this phenomenal human being who battled not only disease but also ignorance and superstition.
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