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The great director of LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS, QUAI DES BRUMES, etc. made this odd low-budget trifle in 1975 at the end of his career.
It's an old story: a stranger appears, mysteriously innocent, knowing nothing of the ways of human society. Spielberg's version of this story is E.T., where the stranger is an alien from outer space. Truffaut covered similar ground with his L'Infant SAUVAGE.
In Marcel Carne's version the stranger claims to be an angel. Appearing naked and dazed on a beach near a small town, the angel is rescued and cared for by the local priest and sexton. They call him "Jean". Jean's lack of understanding of money, clothing, and appropriate social behavior leads to some mildly amusing, if predictable, vignettes.
Carné, director and screenwriter, seems a lot like "Jean" himself: innocently trusting that this mild, familiar fable is enough to satisfy a 1970s audience. He seems to believe, as many older folks did back then, that there was something holy and superior about the hippie lifestyle. Jean seems at times to be a sort of sacred hippie -- an idealized hippie, minus the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.
The angel is played by a very attractive young actor. Carné's camera rapturously celebrates his beautiful face, shining blond hair, and slim, tanned body without any self-consciousness. One wonders if Carné was truly as innocent as Jean and didn't realize how homo-erotic his film was -- although in 1975, critics must have pointed this out.
It's not a very good film, not vivid or original enough to enliven such an old story, but Carne fans should definitely check it out. Its overall tone conveys humility, good taste, quiet honesty, and a love for humanity -- qualities that are increasingly rare among the filmmakers of today.
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