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Mix-Up ou Meli-melo (1986)

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Two English girl babies are switched by mistake in a 1930s hospital,but by being raised by parents other than the real ones,their lives are enriched.

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Two English girl babies are switched by mistake in a 1930s hospital,but by being raised by parents other than the real ones,their lives are enriched.

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July 1987 (USA)  »

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An innovative, inventive and unique documentary
1 March 2004 | by See all my reviews

The premise for a 60-minute documentary: Two female babies were mixed-up at birth by mistake in England in 1936, and we are told the story through all the people involved. That description could sound like a dullish BBC documentary from the 70s, but this example is far from dull. The film begins with two old ladies introducing themselves to us - the first one is Margaret Wheeler, the natural mother of Peggy and the foster-mother of Valerie, who were born in Nottingham, England 48 years previously. The other is Blanche Rylatt, the natural mother of Valerie and the foster-mother of Peggy. They tell us the circumstances of how the babies were mistakenly mixed-up. Then Margaret's eccentric husband, Charles, introduces himself to us through an open window, telling us about the 8mm films he's made. Each of these scenes is carefully set up with people walking into shot and out again and then in the background. Indeed, most of the scenes in this unorthodox gem of a film are structured in different ways. It's unusual that an all-French crew made a documentary film about English people in England. The end credits are appropriately playful, with each of the crew entering the frame from below onto some scales and smiling and waving, then returning from where they came.

Mix-up ou Meli-Melo is a peculiar film that is innovative, inventive and intriguing, and turns a possibly dour documentary film into something unique.


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