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The first effort by Bertrand Blier is not very known ,and many of his fans never heard of it...
As the youngsters of this documentary:"Hitler,never heard of him";actually the name of the Nazi dictator is not even mentioned once. Blier interviews 11 boys and girls between 16 and 20 circa 1963 ,and during an hour and a half ,they speak of their childhood and their parents,school and education,leisure,love and hopes and dreams for the future.
People have seen the seeds of the events of May 68 in these interviews :it not as simple as that.In this group,only one of them hints at Karl Marx and asks for a square deal for the underprivileged.The others never overtly broach politics,although some of them got a raw deal : parents always quarreling, living with the whole family in a single room .Two of them are part of the privileged :the boy with glasses is rather smug,being born silver spoon in hand "I could easily convince my father to buy me a sports car";the other one,a model ,often goes on a winter sports Holiday,the height of luxury circa 1963.The deafening noise she finds hard to stand is the music in the trendy "Chez Régine" nightclub whereas one of his fellows has to cope with the deafening noise of the workshop.Another girl wants a change but it's an individual one "I want to marry a rich man to upgrade my material well-being".Some of them may take the evening classes .The rich kid who has not got a clue of what his fellow men have to endure says:" I often talk with working-class persons;if they have ambition,they can get a better job".Perhaps so,but they have no daddy's plant where a steady job is waiting for them.
It's when it comes to speaking of love that we feel that the times are changing:the go-getter girl who demands a rich marriage thinks that her parents are useful to her ,but "I have no real feelings for them ,I took a boyfriend because I wanted to be a seasoned woman ,but I did not feel any love for him".Many of the boys play around but they all consider marriage a very important thing (cohabitation is essentially a post -68 aftermath).No aids at the time ,but no pill either (Loi Neuwirth 1967) ;and no abortion either (Loi Veil ,1975) One of the girls got pregnant by her boy friend and now she is on her own with her small Frederic in a Young workers'home .
It's a time capsule,but we are told at the beginning of the movie that it's a more or less representative sample and that there are the other ones ...There must have been revolutionaries who wanted to change the world ,conscientious objectors (the Algeria war was hardly over and the compulsory military service lasted 18 months) ,suffragettes refusing to be sex objects and demanding contraception,and perhaps some of the youth we see on the screen were secretly part of them and time to speak out had not come.
Bertrand Blier's docu,shot in stark black and white in a gloomy studio, is certainly less stodgy than Godard's visions.It remains accessible to anyone ,even if it took place half a century ago .There's mainly a skillful editing,which remains modern today.The camera captures faces ,some are careless,some are touching,some are wistful,some are longing for a better future ,for the love they never got from their own parents .The director can stay with one youngster for a while ,or he leaves him or her quickly and he substitutes his/her face for a series of looks and smiles .
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