At the end of the 1940s, Abbé Pierre decided to build an inn for the homeless. During the construction of the Emmaus hostel, he got to know many individuals in need that he was going to take under his wing.
The community of Emmaus opens up and functions thanks to the generous impetus of Father Pierre Groues, it brings together a sample of the underprivileged: jobless truckers, former paratroopers, young people out of penitentiaries, etc. and poor families. A current of great fraternity is established, sometimes cut off from fights and the "ragpickers" manage to make a little money by practicing the art of "china", while the abbot tries to win over. radio games. The accident and the death of one of them will unite the companions of Emmaus even better.
The first movie dealing with l'Abbé Pierre and the best.A second movie was made in the eighties ("Hiver 54: L'Abbé Pierre" ) but I think that Darène's movie does the great man justice,in a more effective way.
André Reybaz ,who plays the leading part is completely unknown -at least of today's audience- and it's better that way ,because we can believe in his character:his commitment to his role is extraordinary.He is never preachy ;if you read the Gospels,he will remind you of Jesus ' words.Such is the man he portrays.Our Martin Luther King ,our Gandhi,only the fight is different : a fight -which continued till his recent death and is still going on with Les Compagnons D'Emmaus" - against poverty and hunger , a plea for the dignity of man,and this hand given to his homeless brothers .
To write that L'Abbé Pierre gave it all is to diminish the man,because there was always more to give,another open wound that demanded he raised his voice :"we've got nothing but we are going to do something that 's going to make those who own everything and do nothing feel ashamed of themselves !" More than in the color movie,this black and white one (which begins with a short speech by L'Abbé Pierre himself) goes straight to the heart :more than food or a home,what matters is what gives meaning to life and we do feel it during the whole movie.The director succeeds in making all his characters ,losers,ex-prisoners,tramps ,abandoned women with children,all endearing.We feel and care for everyone ,and we forget they are played by actors sometimes famous (Madeleine Robinson,Gaby Morlay,Pierre Trabaud...)
My two favorite scenes:
L'Abbé Pierre is completely broke ;he begs for some money in the streets to the tune of a Compagnon playing blues guitar ;in a café people are laughing;L'Abbé gives out leaflets about the plight of his fellow men ,but most of the people throw it on the ground. A young man whose mother was killed by her man is invited to a girl's birthday.He asks her mother to kiss him good night and he bursts into tears.
"Les Chiffonniers D'Emmaus" ,made fifty-six years go is still relevant in 2009 ,when it's really hard times in our French country.
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