The sixteenth volume in Zola's " Rougon-Macquart" saga,"Le rêve" is a special case in the great writer's oeuvre.It looks like a fairy tale ,without a happy end:it makes me think of Andersen's "little mermaid" .
Jacques de Baroncelli who had begun his career in the silent era where he directed a first silent version of "le Reve" (1923)redid it in 1931.
A critic wrote that Baroncelli botched the job.It's unfair for the film was made with care and respect for the audience.Zola's novel,which is one of his shortest ,is also one of his weakest .A girl -a lost child who was adopted by a humble family - falls in love with the bishop's son (a son whose birth caused his mother's death and the father's becoming a religious figure),and the old man who plans a beau marriage is not prepared to accept it.
The painstaking pictures,the use of the settings in the cathedral and of the canticles create a mystical atmosphere.Unfortunately,the two lovers verge on ludicrous.Simone Genevois's and Jacques Catelain's playing make the movie some kind of middle-brow show.A curiosity.
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