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Attending a film festival without being a professional, without being in the cinema environment, lets see many movies in a few days. Most often at random depending on the schedules of films, rooms, queues, sometimes pushed by a conversation with anyone or reading reviews published in newspapers distributed free.

On reflection, these films may have some kinship even if they have been presented in different selections: will organizers, chance, fashion, trend …? Or subjective relationships depending on the mood, fatigue, tastes of the viewer in front of all these films seen in disorder and which could be arranged according to other logic …?
Several films dealt with the author and his work.

Julian Schnabel, the director of At Eternity’s gate on Vincent Van Gogh (1) said that the only way to describe a work of art was to make a work of art. This is what he did in an interesting way by trying to translate the psychological difficulties of Van Gogh essentially by camera movements and his painting by the intense use of color.

The choice of Florian Henckel Van Donnersmarck, in Werk ohne Autor (2), is very different and more classic. He describes the long journey of a young painter to become himself, as requested by one of his teachers, despite the constraints of Western fashion. After the constraints of the communist regime. He finally succeeds in making progress in his portraiture, not in the portrait of command imposed by his father-in-law, compromised in the Nazi and then Communist regimes, but the portrait that also reflects the social reality in which he lives.

It is also this theme that we find, with more or less happiness but in the field of cinema, with Les estivants of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (3) and The other side of the wind, (4): last film of Orson Welles, shot in the 1970s, unfinished and finished by collaborators, after his death.

Doubles vies of Olivier Assayas (5), deals, among others, this theme around a writer of novels, strongly egocentric. But this film, marivaudage with three couples of the world of the Parisian edition, addresses other questions including that of the press and the edition in the face of the digitization which threatens them.



Some films can be more or less considered docu-fictions.

Damien Chazelle’s The First Man (6) narrates the preparation, selection and journey of the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and the repercussions on his family life: an exemplary man in an exemplary USA family.

In 22 JULY (7), Paul Greengrass, through the story of a wounded young survivor and his family, reconstructs the deadly Oslo bombing by a right-wing extremist, an attack which a involved many victims including 77 dead..

Sulla mia pelle (8) by Alessio Cremonini recounts the story of an Italian news item: a young consumer and drug dealer is arrested by the police and succumbs, some time later, to the blows received during his interrogation. The facts are obvious, the state of the young at the entrance and exit of the interrogation testifies. For fear of retaliation, the youth does not dare to denounce the responsible policeman known by the exchange of glances.

The first two are well made but are and seem long because the facts, until their conclusion, are known to the viewer. The last, docu-fiction denouncer, shows the disarray of the young and his family face the malfunctions of the police, justice, administration: dysfunctions that have not yet had a judicial sanction.

Without being docu-fiction, some movies are related to facts that have, for a moment, made headlines.

Like Acusada (9), an incomplete reconstruction of a news item in Perugia, Italy. And its aftermath. A girl is murdered in a party. One girl among her friends, whose compromising images she has posted, is charged. Heavy situation despite his final acquittal.

Amanda (10) gets further away from docu-fiction. The dramatic news of the attacks in Paris serves only as a backdrop to the evolution of a family situation. The mother who is taking care of seven-year-old Amanda disappears in an attack and Amanda’s life, her family’s, is turned upside down. Dramatic circumstances do not prevent a glimpse of a peaceful future …

Charlie says of Mary Harron (11) is the story of Charlie Manson who, guru of a hippie community of the 60s, the Manson family, trains his followers, mainly young women, in a series of assassinations … In resonance with news, the last part shows the attempts to tear these young women out of the spell of which they are still victims after the killings …

In a very different context, Mario Martone’s Capri-Revolution (12) was inspired by real events: a community created by a Utopian painter at the beginning of the last century on the island of Capri. A shepherdess discovers in the mountains, a group of young people, hippies before the hour, loving art, freedom, naturism, free love … Living in a village with strong traditions, with two authoritarian brothers to whom she opposes, she is seduced by their artistic activities, music, dance …
Between the strong tradition of the village, the revolution through the arts or the scientific and socializing reason of the doctor who cured her, while the army calls her brothers, what will she do?

If, once again, the films of woman were rare in the various selections, the female characters had an important place.

Capri-Revolution could be placed in this group of films.

Roma (13), Golden Lion Award, falls into this category. In a wealthy family living in a bourgeois district of Mexico City (Roma), the father leaves the family home, wife and children, while the nanny-servant becomes pregnant, is abandoned by the parent who participates in the repression of student revolts. The two women face the difficult situation that the men left to them.

The favorite (14) at the court of Ann of England. Whether it be the queen or those who are fighting over the place of favorite, whether they love or fight each other, these women do not let themselves be dominated by men of the court who would like to have the power, not only on politics…

In Napszallta (Sunset) (15), it is also question about a young woman: heiress despoiled of a large headgear in 1910, she comes to Budapest to be engaged in the old business of her parents. As in his previous film, Saul’s Son, Lazlo Nemes, the director, leads his heroine in search of a brother, leader of the revolutionaries…

Other films give the main role to a woman, like Suspiria by Luca Giadagnino (16), Deva by Petra Szocs (17), Dachra by Abdelhamid Bouchnak (18)

Beyond these quality films, arranged by topic, we must not forget, three remarkable films.

The ballad of Buster Sruggs (19), six short stories of the Coen brothers who take classic western themes as humorous fables.


Natasha Merkulova et Aleksey Chupov, réalisateurs de The man who surprised everyone.

Natasha Merkulova et Aleksey Chupov, direcftors of The man who surprised everyone.

Some movies feature brothers or sisters, de facto or blood. The title of the film by Jacques Audiard, in its ambiguity, could be emblematic of this group: The sisters brother.
La quietud (20) of Pablo Trapero takes place in Argentina. Two sisters play the leading roles. Young, beautiful, happy, they share everything, their emotions and their lovers, in a magnificent property. When the husband of one returns from Paris, it is the other who picks him up at the airport and immediately takes him in the car … But this happiness, this wealth is based on a hidden crime of the beloved father … And when one of the sisters is pregnant with an uncertain and ultimately useless father, the fruit will be the child of the two sisters…
A star is born of Bradley Cooper (21), pulling a little, can be ranked in this category. It’s not about brothers or sisters but about a couple. A renowned singer recognizes a friend as a true star and pushes her to success. While he sinks into depression and drugs …


The Nightingale (23) by Jennifer Lent. A young Irish girl decides to take revenge for the violence of English soldiers, colonists in Australia, as racist towards the Irish as towards the Aborigines: rape, murder of her husband and her child. The guilty soldiers having left the region, she engages of necessity, in spite of her racism, an aborigine to serve as a guide.
This barbarism against the Aborigines and against the Irish deported to Australia, this violence suffered and shared will lead the two heroes of the mutual, necessary aid to the discovery of the other. The song of the other.

With Western The Sisters brothers (24), shot in English, Jaques Audiard sets off to conquer the west. These two brothers who killed and killed without much emotion and scruples, their job, must find a scientist, a researcher of gold. They accomplish their mission but eventually return to the family ranch to change their lives. There is no doubt that the film will reach its audience in France. Will he pick up the Grail as some promise him? In Venice, he touched and the audience and the jury.

David Oelhoffen’s Frères ennemis (25), childhood friends, mostly of Maghrebi origin, lived in the same neighborhood but are no longer on the same side of the barrier. Some live by drug trafficking and are sinking more and more into delinquency greater than them, from hashish to cocaine in large quantities. The other is in the police, stalking them while trying to avoid the worst ….

The fraternity in S. Craig Zahler’s Dragged across concrete (26) is more complex, multiple. During the action, several fraternities are built. A pair of police officers, one black and one white, is suspended for using excessive means to arrest two offenders. In the wake of a major bank attack, they decide to treat the case for themselves and recover the money. The case goes bad because two accomplices have already planned to double the main team. Last survivors, one of the two accomplices, black, and the old policeman, white, decide to join forces …

The man who surprised everyone by Natacha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov (27). Learning that he is suffering from an incurable disease, a man, a good husband without a history, settles all his affairs and changes his behavior completely: he decides, without saying a word, to display his deep identity.

Aquarela by Victor Kossakovski (28): magnificent film on climate change. In the Far North, the rescue of cars that have sunk into the water due to an unexpected melting of ice, the noisy and majestic fall of huge masses of ice that sinks into the water and rise up like deep breathing, the huge waves, and blue, and black, the sailboat in the storm, the terrible force of hurricanes …

Other films seen:

Kraben rahu (Manta Ray) of Phuttiphong Aroonpheg, 105 mn, Orizzonti.
Peterloo of Mike Leigh, 154 mn, Venezia 75.
La profezia del armadillo of Emanuele Scaringi, 99 mn, Orizzonti.
Ni de lian (Your face) of Tsai Ming-liang, 76 mn, Fuori Concorso.

Vox lux of Brady Corbet, 110 mn, Venezia 75.
Un giorno a l’improvviso of Ciro d’Emilio, 89 mn, Orizzonti.
Deslembro (Unremember) of Flavia Castro, 96 mn, Orizzonti.

La notte de San Lorenzo of Paolo et Vittorio Taviani. 107 mn, Venezia classici restauri.


Blu of Massimo d’Anolfi and Martina Parenti, 20 mn: documentary on the construction of the Milan metro which, by the image alone, gives rise to a certain suspense.

Leoforos patision of Thanasis Neofotistos, 12 mn: a woman caught in the turbulence of a strongly repressed demonstration, is suspended on her cell by the anxiety of knowing her child alone at home.

Strano telo by Dusan Zoric, 20 min. A young woman begins a testimony about the rape she suffered from Serbian soldiers. In a swimming pool, three friends are training. They go in a night club. One is led by a young woman who provokes him by asking for a very vigorous moment. She is finally satisfied. But he goes sick of what he did. He ends up in the army, proud of him. The loop is closed.

Na Li (Down there) by Yang Zhengfan, 11 mn. L’été et tout le reste by Sven Bresser, 18 mn. Ninfe of Isabelle Torre, 12 mn. Los bastardos byThomas Posse, 16 mn.

1 – At eternity‘s gate of Julian Schnabel, 110 mn, Venezia 75, VolpiCup of male interprétation masculine for Willem Dafoe in the role of Van Gogh.

2 – Werk ohne Autor of Florian Henckel Van Donnersmarck, 188 mn, Venezia 75.

3 – Les estivants of Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, 126 mn, Fuori Concorso.

4 – The other side do the wind of Orson Welles, 122 mn, Evento speciale, prize Campari.

5 – Doubles vies of Olivier Assayas, 107 mn, Venezia 75.

6 – The first man of Damien Chazelle, 135 mn, Venezia 75.

7 – 22 July of Paul Greengrass, 143 mn, Venezia 75.

8 – Sulla mia pelle of Alessio Cremonini, 100 mn, Orizzonti.

9 – Acusada ofGonzalo Tobal, 108 mn, Venezia 75

10 – Amanda of Mikhael Hers, 107 mn, Orizzonti.

11 – Charlie says of Mary Harron, 104 mn, Orizzonti.

12 – Capri-Revolution of Mario Martone, 122 mn, Venezia 75.

13 – Roma of Alfonso Cuaron, 135 mn, Venezia 75, Golden Lion Award.

14 – The favorite of Yorgos Lanthinos, 120 mn, Venezia 75, Jury Grand Prize and Volpi cup of female interprétation to Olivia Colman in the role of queen Ann.

15 – Napszallta of Lazlo Nemes, 142 mn, Venezia 75.

16 – Suspiria of Luca Giadagnino, 152 mn, Venezia 75.

17 – Deva of Petra Szocs, 82 mn, Orizzonti.

18 – Dachra of Abdelhamid Bouchnak, 113 mn, Fuori Concorso.

19 – The ballad of Buster Sruggs of Joël and Ethan Coen, 133 mn, Venezia 75, Prix du scénario.

20 – La quietud of Pablo Trapero, 120 mn, Fuori Concorso.

21 – A star is born of Bradley Cooper, 135 mn, Fuori Concorso.

22 – L’amica geniale of Saverio Costanzo, 120 mn, Fuori Concorso.

23 – The Nightingale of ennifer Lent, 136 mn, Venezia 75, Jury special Prize  and Marcello-Mastroianni Prize Young Emerging Actor Awarded for Aboriginal Actor Baykali Ganambarr.

24 – The Sisters brothers of Jaques Audiard, 120 mn, Venezia 75, Silver Lion of the best staging.

25 – Frères ennemis of David Oelhoffen, 111 mn, Venezia 75.

26 – Dragged across concrete of S. Craig Zahler, 158 mn, Fuori Concorso.

27 – The man who surprised everyone of Natacha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov, 105 mn, Orizzonti.

28 – Aquarela of Victor Kossakovski, 89 mn, Fuori Concorso.


Et comme il est impossible de résister à prendre quelques photographies à Venise…

Published by Paul ORIOL dans Cinéma


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About « Le château de ma mère » from Marcel Pagnol


As part of the Cercle des Chamaileurs, one of us chose to talk about Le Château de ma mère. I would have preferred a play, it would have allowed us to see how Marcel Pagnol himself staged the text he had written.

This choice of Le Château de ma mère made me read 3 books of Pagnol (Le Château de ma mère, La Gloire de mon père, Le Temps des secrets), to loak at 2 films of Yves Robert (Le Château de ma mère, La Gloire de mon père) and read 2 books by Jean Giono (Regain, Le Chant du monde).


Conclusion: I am lost. I mix a little everything. Partly because of Yves Robert who staged some anecdotes under titles that are not accurate (the meeting of Marcel and Isabelle in Le Château de ma mère)

What does it come out of? That I am not able to do a structured article like I did on the other books discussed previously. But simply to give sometimes contradictory impressions.

First, a certain lightness of Pagnol’s books. Lightness, in the good sense of the word, that is to say pleasant to read but also lightness compared to Giono. Le Château de ma mère is a fake children’s book with short chapters (6 pages on average) that turn a bit at Le Petit Nicolas or La Guerre des boutons sometimes to Don Camillo and Peppone.
Still highlighted in Yves Robert’s film.
The first hundred pages of Le Château are the enchanted discovery by the young Marcel of the hills, at the beginning with the hunters of which he is the dog beater, before making the faithful dog of Isabelle, to face the big black dog, attached but terrible, to become captain of the beautiful Isabelle  and finally, with all the family, impressed by the old Mastoc, the old dog of the narrow guard.
But the true discovery is the encounter, accomplice, Lili de Bellons, younger than him in the book but larger in the film, which makes him discover, really opens the beauty of nature, wildlife, flora of the hills. With perhaps too much display by Marcel Pagnol of his knowledge of the birds. Marcel tries to give in exchange the story of the city, the multiplication table or the vocabulary of the school. But what Lili prefers is the anecdote of the bartavelles.

Yves Robert is only marginally interested in this meeting-discovery of nature: the first three minutes, including generic, are a circular view around a hill of white rocks, in the mist, under a gray sky, which leads to grosibou (gros hibou, big owl) in his cache, seen from behind, in backlight, disturbing, watching over new hills that we discover, with songs of birds, finally becoming green in a blue sky while the voice of the narrator speaks of these hills, the love of his life, and the holidays over: a car moves away from the country house, a young deboule, in sailor suit, shakes hands …

The second part of the book is made of the adventures of the little Marcel, convict scholarship, equipped to go to the bastide, genius of the plot of the mother and happy meetings of Bouzigue who has a good job thanks to Mr. Joseph, his former teacher, Marcel’s father, and his sister (sic), little virtue! Happy meeting of the scarred count, of the gardener, son of the people. Such is the people; his faults come only from his ignorance. But his heart is good as good bread and he has the generosity of children and especially the bad meeting … the guard accompanied by Mastoc.



For Yves Robert, it’s essential but it was not enough, he adds the meeting with Isabelle who is in Le temps des secrets.

The success of the book and of the film is probably due to the description of the friendly and family sentimental relations, and to a certain number of happy, picturesque formulas or words of child sometimes of an innocent cruelty. But also to situations that are affectionately ridiculed: the discreet disrespect for his father’s attachment to the Republic, to the instruction beyond his professional life, his scruples, his agnosticism… the religiosity of  Uncle Jules is never questioned.

Beyond the good words of children: il faut le démourir, (it must be indied) … On ne tremble pas pour des chasseurs à moustaches… J’avais décidé de n’aspirer à ces hautes fonctions qu’après mon service militaire. (We do not tremble for hunters mustaches … I decided to aspire to these high positions after my military service). One can be sensitive to a certain lyricism of Pagnol:  L’oreille collée à la roche polie, nous écoutions, les yeux fermés. Elle chantait selon les vents, le mistral la faisait rire…, Les parfums étaient devenus des odeurs et montaient du sol presque visibles, les pins immobiles se mirent à chanter… Leurs costumes de chasse sur les épaules de plusieurs chaises… Son visage énorme était orné de deux paires de moustaches rousses : l’une sous le nez, l’autre au dessus des yeux qui étaient bleus et bordés de cils rouges… Les gouttes de pluie coulaient lentement sur la vitre ; sur ma figure, lentement coulaient mes larmes, an image that he seems to like because he takes it again: De douces gouttes de pluie pleuraient pour moi sur mon visage (Il pleure dans mon cœur comme il pleut sur la ville ? Paul Verlaine)… La pluie tombait en gouttes de silence...

Some of these images flourish pantheism:  La vieille odeur de la bergerie… nous fit savoir… La pluie le comprit, elle s’arrêta… Les trente cinq jours… mais la patience de la pendule en vint à bout. (The old smell of the sheepfold … let us know … The rain understood, it stopped … The thirty five days … but the patience of the clock came at the end).

However, we are very far from the powerful pantheistic lyricism of Jean Giono.

Les Croix de Bois (Wooden crosses)

170402 Andechs Ammersee Munich croix.jpgLes croix de bois


The book, Les croix de bois, appeared in 1919, immediately after the war, written by Roland Dorgelès, a volunteer, although reformed twice for health reasons. The film, adapted from the book, was released in 1932: shot on the battlefields of Champagne with the support of the French Army and with actors – Pierre Blanchar (Gilbert Demachy), Charles Vanel (Corporal Breval), Aimos (Fouillard) , Jean Galland (Captain Cruchet) – and extras who participated in the war.

  In the book, Roland Dorgelès retraces the life at the front of a group of soldiers that has just joined a young engaged law student who fits despite the differences in education, class, fortune … The experience of those men who endure an implacable war, on which they can not do anything, to which they must adapt, makes it a book against war, not for philosophical, political or other reasons, but by the mere description of the life of the soldiers.

Les croix de bois

The strength of  Les Croix is the story of daily life at the front. A closed world, to which no one can escape, without any link with the outside world, apart from food and babilles (letters), good or bad, irregular, apart from the incomprehensible decisions of the strategists, German or French, who are known only by their consequences: a patrol to be made, an attack to take back a village in ruins, in a mad race against machine-gun fire, the waiting for the relief or death, on Mount Calvary, this earth dead where torpedoes could only tear away rags of men and pebbles, and for which so many friends had already lost their lives. While the German picks announce that they are setting up a mine that will blow everything up.

Roland Dorgelès goes from one day to the next, from one situation to another, from one event to another, without transition: from the trench in the mud, to the rest in the gourbi where one escapes impossible dreams or, in the back, in the lively village with its shops, its bistrots. From one waiting to another: soup, letters, relief, attack, rain or bombs. Or death

He describes sinister places: all along the bank, wooden crosses, tinny and bare, made of planks or crossed branches watched the water flow … With the floods, the crosses were to go, over the gray water … But also the farm, the big room, all embalmed with soup … where he finds his chair, his bowl, his hooves, his little bottle of ink … find these things to oneself, these nonsense friends could never have seen again.
He guesses the thoughts of everyone, Gilbert Demachy, probably very close to his own, especially about those poor men who, alive, he had not always loved, because they were sometimes rude, the gesture and the spirit heavy. And their dreams, their hope despite a forced resignation. This hope is maintained by moments of happiness. It took the war to teach us that we were happy … Happiness is everywhere. It is the gourbi where it does not rain … the dirty litter where we go to bed … A pavement, nothing but a pavement, where to rest in a brook of mud, it is still happiness. But you have to go through the mud to find out. When the war is over, for five days …, far from the trench, far from the front line when, at rest, we end up with the surviving friends. A delirium on what we would give to return to the country: an eye, a leg …

Unbearable situations too: All in the gut … Without looking, we jumped. By touching the soft bottom with the foot … It was an infamous heap, a monstrous exhumation of waxy Bavarians on others already black, whose twisted mouths exhaled a rotten breath; a whole heap of jagged flesh, with corpses that had been said to have been unscrewed, feet and knees completely turned over… it was felt as a religious fear to walk on these corpses, to crush with foot these figures of men.

All in a beautiful and rich language that sometimes we do not dare qualify as poetic. Nevertheless, this book is a work of hope, of will to live, of small happiness of which one is only aware when one has lived the worst.

Les croix de bois

In this subjective, intimate narrative, Raymond Bernard’s film brings a more outward-looking, more desperate representation of war, through the apparent objectivity of images dominated by death. From the first image, during the credits, the flame of the unknown soldier: it will also be the last image. Then comes a battalion presenting the weapons, each soldier covered, in a fade, by a white cross and a double field of white crosses on ceremonial music, black cross field (German soldiers), white and black crosses and a large cross white – in memoriam. In the middle of the images which recall the enthusiasm of the beginning of war, commitment of the volunteers, departures by train, flowery and singing, a poster of mobilization, sound of bells with appearance of a portrait of mother.

War: devastated fields peopled with corpses, skeletons of trees, bomb holes where the soldiers are hiding, the German or French attacks of biffins (soldiers of infantry) which are nothing but machine-gun flesh; close up image with the dying man, Corporal Bréval, desperate, tortured to the last breath by the infidelities of his wife; the agony of Damarchy, the last sequence of the film, which never asked anything other than to keep hope until the end … and who moves, and who refuses to die, who hums to survive,  v’là, le beau temps …

 The main, specific, force of the film is probably the use of sound: the sound of this war, of that gun that is constantly on fire, far away or nearby, only disturbing or deadly. Who stops for a moment. A moment of happiness. Who resumes immediately. Who is getting closer. Who takes away lives. Randomly. Without any other defense than the trench, the gourbi or the bomb hole in which one sinks when it is possible. Waiting. Hazard.
Raymond Bernard used the new technique of sound film to overwhelm the viewer with the deadly force of the warrior technique: crackling machine guns, French or German, decimate men who run in an impossible assault; thunder of heavy artillery that destroys everything, explodes the earth with a thousand holes, petrifies trees and kills men. An artillery clash, infernal, that will last ten days, fifteen minutes of cinema, interspersed with cartoons – ten days – cartoons which, in silent films, still in the majority at the time, gave voice to men, fully alive now and, here, sink into the viewer’s head the duration of the hell, of mortal threat ..

Raymond Bernard imprisoned the film in the images of superimpositions of crosses at the beginning of the film, crosses on the youth battalion destined for the massacre, but also at the end of the film, cohorts of soldiers carrying white, French, or black, German crosses. Amount to sacrifice. Only death is victorious. Also superimposed on sound, when Demachy begs the Virgin to allow him to survive or, at least, to preserve the hope of living, always, now, at the hour of death. And we hear the faithful in the church, finish, in its place: so-be it.

The Wood Crosses, neither the film nor the book, are especially against the military – there are good and bad officers or under-officers, good or bad soldiers. The hardest, for those who die – Demachy, Bréval, it’s the thought of the carefree, unfaithful woman … For the one who comes back, alive – Sulphart – the woman soaring with the furniture, without a word, without a letter. As for the civilians, there is little question, the villagers who benefit, the others, in the back, are in an other world, even the parents of Demachy who Sulphart on leave, tried to talk about the front, do not understand …

But the soldiers, in their little moments of happiness in the heart of the slaughter, are also cold in front of the death of the other – the body of friends used to make a parapet, the dead no more tragic than the pebbles … How hard is the man, in spite of his cries of pity, as the pain of others seems light to him, when his is not mixed up!

Les croix de bois

The book and the film end differently. In the film, Demachy, murmurs while dying, here is the nice weather, cruel and derisory … In the book, Sulphart, with two fingers and two odds less, abandoned by his wife, is alive, surviving perhaps but alive , with memories. Of all the others we see the crosses.
In All Quiet on the Western Front, book and film, equivalent Germanic Les Croix de bois, one can find comparable differences: the books are more centered on the conditions of the soldiers. All are against the war, but in All Quiet, book and film, are more political than Les Croix, both against those who start wars and those who benefit, against the military and their accomplices, teachers and strategists in a bistro .

Roland Dorgeles says nothing of the cause of the war, which, being voluntary, must have seemed to him more or less legitimate. To which he adheres, in spite of everything, on several occasions: the repeated volunteering of Gilbert Demachy, to go to war and for missions to the front, in a way his double, I felt that he would be my friend… When, in the church, we sing Save, save France … how are we, with our eyes closed, our foreheads in our hands, that this song moves us to shake our throats!…  At the moment of the attack, all the saps, all the trenches were full, and to feel so pressed, kidneys close kidneys , by the hundreds, by the thousands, we felt a sudden confidence. Hardy or resigned, we were only a grain in this human mass. The army that morning had a soul of victory…  at the moment of the parade of victory, the conquest of a village in ruins, music in the lead, the general had risen on his stirrups and, with a great gesture of theater, a beautiful gesture of his naked sword, he greeted our flag, he greeted us … The regiment, suddenly, was no more than a single being. One pride: to be the ones saluted! Proud of our mud, proud of our sorrow, proud of our deads! … our pride of male winners. Which leads him to conclude, however, that there will always be wars.

  On this aspect, the film deviates a little from the book: the song Save France! at mass in a village, is replaced by Ave Maria; during the victorious review, even if the regiment’s music restores the presence of the men who straighten up, the image of the general on his horse, a bit paunchy, shown counter-dive, is not that of a warrior triumphant at the head of his troops …
Les Croix de bois, book and film, are more focused on the lives of soldiers on the front than All Quiet on the Western Front : no military classes at the barracks, no permission, no prison camp, no adventures feminine, no parents … Les Croix was written just after the war. In the deceptive euphoria of a victorious hecatomb, even if book and film end before the armistice. The film was made thirteen years later. The euphoria of victory has faded. There remains the wound, the bleeding.


 170402 Andechs Ammersee Munich croix

1 – Les Croix de bois of Roland Dorgelès (1919), film directed by Raymond Bernard (1932).

In 1932, the sound or speaking cinema exists only for a few years, Alan Crosland’s jazz singer was released in 1927, 20 theaters are sounded in 1929 and less than 50% of theaters (a thousand) in France are equipped to the projection of these new films in 1932.

2 – Im Westen nichts Neues,novel of Erich Maria Remarque (1929), film All Quiet on the Western Front directed by Lewis Milestone, (1930)

Ardiente Paciencia, Il postino, The Postman

Ardiente Paciencia, Il postino, Le Facteur

Antonio Skármeta wrote Ardiente Paciencia which inspired Michael Radford to realize Il postino (The postman). Book and film tell the story of the friendship between the young man who wants to become a poet to seduce women and his only everyday client, Pablo Neruda. (1). When Mario discovers the beautiful Beatriz, he will make the poet his accomplice at first involuntary then benevolent and effective in his poetic education and conquest …

 This story of love and poetry unfolds in parallel and in harmony with that of Salvador Allende in the conquest and exercise of power and his fall. During this period, Pablo Neruda, very involved in the political events of his country, resides in Black Island, located in Chile in the novel, in Italy in the film. Hence some adaptations at the scenario level.

While the book was written in Spanish and the film was shot in Italian, very often the same text is found in French in the book and in the film. Despite this fidelity to the text, the film and the book have their own identity.

Ardiente Paciencia, Il postino, Le Facteur

In the book, Antonio Skármeta alternates very long sentences with a flood of words, qualifiers that testify to the importance of the phenomenon or feeling described but often with an irony, self-deprecation of the author and a certain truculence. And quick dialogues, sometimes, a popular vocabulary and many traits of spirits that give the reader the smile at times, more or less dramatic for the protagonists.

This aspect is a little erased in the film which insists more on the beauty of the landscapes, the confrontation of the colors: darkness of the post office, pink house of peace and happiness where the postman carries, every day, the mail for Neruda and s opens to poetry and friendship, variations of blue and gray of the sea, calm or agitated, Black Island, volcanic, …

 Paradoxically, where the book gives to see and to hear by the words, the film suggests by the images and the play of the actors, the seductive looks of Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Beatriz), the hands and the very expressive face of Massimo Troisi ( Mario) which contrast with the more restrained game of PN (Philippe Noiret, Pablo Neruda).

 Poetry is often present, as learning, the revelation of metaphor, as a means of seduction for Mario who shamelessly uses the bard’s poems to dominate his shyness and seduce the seductive Beatriz who only asks for this and uses other means; poetry as a transfiguration of reality, sometimes unconscious, Rosa, Beatriz’s mother, reading or hearing the poem Mario gave to her daughter, concludes that he saw Beatriz, naked, because she is just like that (the poem was written for Matilde Neruda’s wife); Mario is seasick listening to a poem recited by Neruda …


Ardiente Paciencia, Il postino, Le Facteur
The adaptation of the plot to the Italian situation is at the origin of some welcome scenes: the young Mario is hired because he has a bicycle necessary to carry the mail to Pablo Neruda who lives away from the village and he does not separate from easily, he enters the post office and leaves the cinema with his bicycle (a nod to Vittorio de Sica’s bicycle thief); in Chile, Mario’s hierarchical superior is socialist; in Italy he is a communist; Mario must read one of his poems during a political concentration that ends dramatically, a scene that is perfectly integrated with current images; when Pablo Neruda returns to the village, years later, he enters the cafe, a photo of Beatriz and Mario’s wedding is on the wall, a baby-foot ball bounces on the ground, quickly followed by a boy, Pablito, the son of Mario and Beatriz, reminder of the initial scene of seduction and the first love meeting; last scene, Pablo Neruda on the beach, for the first time, seen from the sea, crushed by the black cliff …

Ardiente Paciencia, Il postino, Le Facteur

The poetic education of the postman by the Nobel laureate Bard is disrupted and eventually interrupted by events happening elsewhere that have serious repercussions on the life of the Black Island. A love story perfectly integrated in History.


Ardiente Paciencia, Il postino, Le Facteur

1 – Ardiente Paciencia, book published in Chile in 1985 by Antonio Skármeta, development of the film realized by the author in 1983. This book was translated in French by François Maspéro in 1987. Michael Radford adapted it to the cinema, under the title of Il postino, in 1994 with as main actors Massimo Troisi, Maria Grazia Cucinotta and Philippe Noiret.


Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement)

Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Un long dimanche de fiançailles (1)


In the winter of 1917, five soldiers sentenced to death for self-harm were brought to the front to be punished. Mathilde, unconvinced, against all and all the evidences, refuses to admit the death of her fiance, one of the five condemned. She’s going to find out what really happened. At the price of a real police investigation.

First images: a high-angle shot to the battlefield and the trench reveals a piece of a still white statue of Christ, hung by an arm, to a tree before seeing the column, the first condemned and hearing his story. The second identical shot, this time, the body of a horse, black, the head stuck between two branches.
Suffering, destruction foretold of abandoned men and beasts …

The film faithfully respects the spirit of the book, despite significant changes in the scenario. A voice off takes up the text of the narrator, accompanied by images that reinforce the dramatic side of this war. Where color plays its role, predominantly gray for the war scenes and yellow for the scene of life away from the front.
For each condemned, the images go beyond simple illustrations of the text and give it flesh, complete it. They show their humanity, the circumstances that brought them there and their previous life, professional and love life, and for Bleuet, all his life. The whole interspersed with several « attention to the wire », telephone wire that crosses the trench at the height of man, only link with the world of the living, with the hope of a possible grace of President Poincaré.

The film begins like the first chapter of the book, the rain has replaced the snow … The five condemned, accompanied by other soldiers, are presented one after the other, by their number. The 2124, Bastoche, 4077, Six-Sous, 1818, Cet Homme, 7328, Ange or Droit commun and the last one, Bleuet, 9692. Bastoche, carpenter in the Bastille and his friend Veronique … Six-Sous, welder in Bagneux who knows, from a family tradition, that one day social justice … and who tries to convince his comrades … Ange, Droit commun of Belle de Mai, in Marseille, who was sentenced to five years in prison for a a question of honor … Cet Homme, a child of the Assistance publique, a peasant from the Dordogne, whom the gendarmes came to look for on the farm, triggering a sudden gust of wind that sets the wheats and steals the load of his cart. And Bleuet, Mathilde’s fiance.

Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Un long dimanche de fiançailles narrates the frightful conditions of daily life of the soldiers in the trenches, on the front which leads them to dehumanization, madness … self-mutilation which can only end in the Conseil de Guerre, enjoyed murder with the bayonet of a defenseless German, execution of a Frenchman by a bullet in the back because, white flag, he advances towards the German front, proclaiming that he was not French but Corsican … not to mention, to improve the statistics of the activity of the front, the order to send the condemned, between the lines, into the no mnan’s land. They will be counted as dead in battle … with the passive complicity of the entire hierarchy which simply executes the orders.

Un long dimanche de fiançailles focuses on Mathilde’s stubborn, stubborn, unbelievable quest to find the trace of Manex, Bleuet, disappeared. This research is told, through somewhat tedious epistolary exchanges in the novel, attenuated in the film. Notably by the images of the factor that brings the mail to Mathilde, treated Tati-like, arriving by bicycle on the gravel of the farm and even in the kitchen. This investigation and the life of Mathilde allow the reader to glimpse, little by little, by luminous images in the film, what was, what could have been the life of all these unfortunates.


Un long dimanche de fiançailles


Un long dimanche de fiançailles does not escape stereotypes. Apart from Manex-Manech, the central character who is Basque, the positive heroes are obviously from Paris, Bastoche, and the suburbs of Paris, the welder Six-Sous from Bagneux. The negative character is Corsican, evidently proxenet, Droit commun, and his beautiful protected woman, brown, dangerous lover and proud justicier. As for the detective Germain Pire, he is like all the southerners, with a strong sympathetic, compassionate accent, not hesitating, to find Tina, the lover of Droit commun, venturing into Corsica, picturesque and dangerous, where reigns the omerta and to continue it to her workplace where he is shown undergoing a professional toilet and a parade. But helpful and finally relatively efficient.


The essential point is the love story, since childhood, of Mathilde and Manex – MMM, Mathilde aime Manex, Manex aime Mathilde – in a beautiful landscape around a symbolic lighthouse. But the loves of the other characters are treated with the same finesse, increasing the contrast between the hardness of what these men live in war and the sensitivity of the love scenes: preliminal tongue games of Véronique and Bastoche that are found but impossible between Manex and Mathile, impossible at their very young age and the window interposed; in the light of matches, apparel offered from Mathilde to Manex, from Elodie to Bastoche, uncertain, lost between accepted obligations and desires avoided, opening an ephemeral link to the unexpected, sterile and devastating results. She will not have the sixth child who would allow the return of her husband and will cause a friendly breakup and a break in love. Fantasy disturbances of the faithful Mathilde.

Finally, Un long dimanche de fiançailles, a film about the woes of war, a police film, a romance movie, with however a net of hope.


Un long dimanche de fiançailles
Noise rushes that one can be happy

1 – Un long dimanche de fiançailles, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film, 2004, 134 mn, from Sebastien Japrisot’s novel, Denoël, 1991, 367 p.

2 – In Un long dimanche de fiançailles, many things happen who were already in the film All Quiet on the Western Front, sometimes with a different spirit: the soldiers who come up to the front and who see coffins or men who dig graves-we anticipate, « attention to the wire », with hope of grace, the importance of the boots that change owner – to survive – the rats that are hunted – here unfortunately, the character indispensable to find food – Kat and Poux – the sergeant intraitable but not sadiqueici ..

All Quiet on the Western Front

A l’Ouest, rien de nouveau


The novel,  All Quiet on the Western Front (Original : Im Westen nichts Neues) von Erich Maria Remarque (1) was released in 1929, followed shortly afterwards by the film which it inspired (All Quiet on the Western Front) by Lewis Milestone (2). Both, pacifists, the war of 14-18 seen by a young German volunteer soldier were a great success.

In Germany, the book was sold at 800,000 copies between 1930 and 1935, the date of the exile of Remarque (published in France in 1930, 600,000 copies), it is one of the best prints of the 20th century, at least, 30 million in the world. The film won two Oscars, best film, best director, in 1930.
The Nazis burned the book at the 1933 autos and censored the film.

The film is not the illustration, image by word, of the book. Situations, dialogues of the book are found there but some scenes have disappeared, others have been added. These modifications, without betraying the pacifist spirit of the novel, bring a slightly different point of view.

It is enough to realize to compare first pages and first images.

 The first lines of the book are devoted to an eventful distribution of the meal. The food, a concrete question, comes back several times throughout the novel: the soldiers are ill and irregularly fed. So far we were mixing food with sawdust, now we have only sawdust said one of them.

But that day, things are very different. The food of the second company arrived, for 150 soldiers. The cook only wants to make the distribution when everyone is there. The second company, gone in first line at 150, returned half decimated: they are only 80!
There are 150 rations and 80 soldiers. The food is for the second company. Each soldier now wants two rations. Including tobacco. The cook does not want to hear anything. This conflict, which threatens to go wrong, is resolved by an officer who decides in favor of the soldiers.

The tone is given. The novel will focus on the concrete situations, on the daily live of the soldiers, especially the narrator’s classmates. And their consequences: hunger of course, death, wounds, fear, promiscuity, morale, attacks and counter attacks …. And reflections on the war, on their concrete situation, on the crises of despair and nostalgia …

It is the warrior engagement that opens the film. Professor’s enthusiasm. He announces to the service woman, both cleaning school, the success of the day: 30 French prisoners, Russians, much more than that!
He opens the door of the school widely on the street, the troops parade in popular enthusiasm. The postman proudly announces his departure the next day as a reserve sergeant. The florist is robbed of its merchandise by the women who throw flowers to the military parading …
While following the parade, the camera enters, with a backward movement, into the classroom, fixes, in a slight dive, on the teacher and the blackboard with writings in Latin and Greek. It then widens to the two windows which frame it in which the parade continues, the military music covering his words.

The image then focuses on the professor, on his discourse, the military music becoming inaudible. He addresses all the pupils and exhorts them to join the army: one student sees himself arriving at home in uniform, to the great terror of his mother and to the proud joy of his father; another imagines himself at the wheel of a military vehicle surrounded by two admiring young women.

Then the professor, in close-up, speaks to some, with a threatening eye, provoking them personally, to the point of triggering the voluntary work of the whole class. Cries, songs, a pupil erases on the blackboard Latin and Greek and inscribed Nach Paris, (To Paris), the others throw away the notebooks, the school is finished as for holidays, they form a monôme and leave the classroom . They pass noisily in front of the windows.

The class is empty. Scattered notebooks. All is said. The culture, Latin and Greek confused, yields to the bellicose ardor. War has already devastated everything. The pupils, duped by their teacher, leave careless. They will not come back or break. Physically. Psychically. Morally.


In the last pages of the book and images of the film, Paul, the narrator, dies. In the book, a simple note: He fell, in april 1918… He had fallen, head forward In the film, Paul pays with his life an imprudence while trying to catch a butterfly. Too beautiful image of death …
But while in the previous pages Paul confides and his despair, and the life force that is in him, the last image of the film is a superposition of the second company that rises to the front, already seen image, and a cemetery military with innumerable white crosses

A l’Ouest, rien de nouveau

Of course, book and film show, both, misery, suffering, the presence of death, fear, adaptation necessary for survival at the cost of a realism that might pass for cynicism – the passage of boots become useless from one amputated soldier to another who covets them and then to another after his death … Discussions on the why of the war, about the perpetrators of this slaughter. Of the uselessness of what was learned yesterday at school, to make war, and what is learned today, to survive tomorrow, peace returned. From the impossible rehabilitation of young people to civil society, peace …

Scenes are common to the book and film, as dramatic when Paul stabs a Frenchman who dies slowly before his eyes, as poignant when he goes to see his family, especially his gravely ill mother. Or ridiculous when the strategists of bistro tell Paul that it is necessary to break the enemy front and to run on Paris.

The book deals with more intimate subjects, personal reflections of the author on the poor moments of happiness, the addiction to the suffering, the death of others, a comfortable unbearable promiscuity in civil life: mobile latrines that allow playing cards, a love scene in the hospital, under the protection of his comrades, a wounded man whom his wife came to see …

The added scenes show the grip of every moment of the machine on men, exercises, including bullying, hundreds of young recruits in a barracks court, agitation of the troops, infantry and artillery near the front, attacks counter attacks, bombardments, life in the trench, which involve the spectator in the war.

In the book more than in the film, no hatred against the adversary, the enemy, the brother that must be killed to survive. Who is perhaps better off, French or English, corned beef, white bread, cognac … Who is even more destitute, more unhappy, Russian prisoner … dying, really, of hunger …

The war, seen from both ends.
The brute force of the machine that wounds or kills at random, which enslaves, to which the soldier obeys, because he must obey, because he has become an automaton.
The horror at the level of the ground, felt daily, physical and moral suffering, manages to find food, combines, for a place in the kitchen, some cigarettes against morphine for the suffering comrade …

When we leave, we are only vulgar soldiers, sullen or in a good mood, and when we reach the area where the front begins we have become beastmen.


A l’Ouest, rien de nouveau

1 – Erich Maria Remarque, born in 1898, of his real name Erich Paul Remark, did not commit himself: he was mobilized in 1916, sent to the front in 17 and wounded in July. His mother, Maria, named like the mother of the hero of the novel, Paul Bäumer, died of cancer in September 17.

2 – Lewis Milestone (1895-1980) obtained in 1930, the Oscar of the Best director for All Quiet on the Western Front that had also the Oscar of the Best film. Nominated also for the best scenario and the best photography.
Lewis Milestone won already in 1929 the Oscar of the Best Comedy Director for Two Arabian Knights

« Anar » Weekend in Ménilmontant

En français

Saturday, May 6, 2017, as part of the Resistance Month organized by the City of Paris, the association 24 Août44 presented in the center Paris Anim ‘of the 19 ° (Place des Fêtes) a reading of testimonies From libertarian Spain to The exile, from 1936 to the present day, followed by the film, We must watch, a documentary by François Boutonnet built from archival images and testimonies of Jordi and José who knew children, war of Spain, the Retirada and the camps of exile. And who have rebuilt another life in the South of France, turned towards the future (1).
Recalling that the first Frenchmen who entered Paris on 24 August 44 were Spaniards … often anarchists!

Sunday, May 7, Place de Ménilmontant, some photos of the popular ball


Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant
Week-end à Ménilmontant

1 – Il nous faut regarder (Libres itinéraires d’exil de Jordi et José) Film of François Boutonnet, 52 minutes, Cinéma – 2010, DVD – 2011.


CHOCOLAT, une homme oublié

Ce film (1), librement inspirée d’une histoire vraie relatée par Gérard Noiriel, fait revivre le premier artiste noir qui a conquis une certaine célébrité, à Paris, au tournant des 19° et 20° siècles puis est tombé dans l’oubli.

CHOCOLAT,  une homme oublié

A travers son scénario, ses dialogues, le jeu des acteurs, le film de Roschdy ZEM donne à voir l’état de la France à cette époque, 1897-1917, des limites qu’elle oppose à un Noir qui a quelques ambitions pour sortir de la place, limitée, qui lui est accordée quelle que soit sa valeur personnelle.

C’est l’époque de l’empire français, sur lequel le soleil ne se couche jamais, qui étale, avec bonne conscience, sa suffisance civilisatrice lors de l’Exposition coloniale avec son zoo humain… Une époque où triomphe un racisme polymorphe qui s’exprime dans le film, sous toutes ses facettes, depuis le racisme inconscient, pourquoi le clown noir s’appelait-il Chocolat et son partenaire blanc Footit et non farine ou pot de chambre comme le suggère sa petite amie du moment ? Jusqu’au racisme le plus dur, les policiers qui le passent au balais brosse sous un jet d’eau pour lui montrer que, quoi qu’il fasse, il ne sera jamais qu’un négro. En passant par le racisme bon enfant dont, astucieux, il sait se sortir grâce à son intelligence et ses bons mots.

Trois Noirs sont aperçus dans le film, tous trois sont assignés, enfermés dans un lieu précis : l’un en prison, pour idées subversives, qui préfère regagner Haïti, après avoir tâté du Paris de Liberté, Égalité Fraternité ; l’autre, temporairement, dans une case du zoo humain avant d’être renvoyé quelque part en Afrique, qui interpelle Chocolat dans une langue qu’il ne comprend pas ; Chocolat, clown sur la piste du cirque, le plus favorisé, contesté par les deux autre, le plus intégré, dans un rôle dont il ne sortira que pour son malheur.

Preuve d’une renommée certaine, une séquence du film montre le duo, Footit-Chocolat, filmé par les frères Lumières. Ce film, une séquence de 50 secondes, longueur maximale autorisée à l’époque par la technique des frères Lumières, est projetée à la fin du film (2).

La gloire acquise, dans un rôle assigné, clown de cirque, lui donne l’idée de faire du théâtre. Et il se sert du préjugé racial pour revendiquer le rôle d’Othello : qui d’autre que moi peut jouer Othello avec autant de réalisme. Paradoxalement, il veut incarner un Noir au théâtre pour ouvrir une brèche, comme le lui a soufflé Victor, le Haïtien, pour changer de peau… pour devenir aussi blanc que les blancs, pour échapper à la malédiction d’être né fils d’esclave.
Oubliant que l’art de l’acteur n’est pas d’être mais de paraître, de créer, que dans la tradition théâtrale les acteurs pouvaient avoir des masques, que les hommes ont longtemps joué des rôles féminins ou inversement, à l’époque de Chocolat, avec Sarah Bernhardt jouant Hamlet… Mais surtout que, si l‘époque pouvait faire une gloire à un Noir qui jouait les faire-valoir, à qui on bottait les fesses tous les soirs, qui faisait des grimaces et roulait de gros yeux, elle n’était pas prête à voir un Noir, incarner un personnage, même noir, du répertoire, quel que soit son talent d’acteur.

Le film ne fait pas seulement le portrait dénonciateur d’une société, d’une époque. Il montre aussi que Rafaël – Kananga – Chocolat est un homme complexe qui a une histoire avant, pendant et après la gloire : Rafaël, fils d’esclave ayant vu son père humilié à Cuba, Kananga, cannibale de cirque, aimé d’une jeune écuyère qu’il oublie dès qu’il arrive à Paris et qui, devenu le grand Chocolat, découvre la vie facile, les femmes, l’alcool et même le laudanum, et le luxe, tout ce que l’argent gagné peut lui procurer. Mais aussi, qui aime les enfants et est aimé d’eux. Qui aime, est aimé par celle qui l’aide à réaliser son rêve et le soutien contre amis et famille. Qui finit par se révolter contre son maître, celui qui lui a tout appris, celui qui ne l’abandonnera pas, celui qui l’aime d’amour ce dont il ne s’apercevra jamais.

Dans le film, certaines scènes semblent se répéter avec un éclairage différent.
Les gendarmes viennent dans le petit cirque : Kananga, sans papier, se cache sous une roulotte et ne voit plus son ami Georges que de pieds à la taille comme l’enfant Rafaël avait vu les gardes et leur fouet dans le champ de canne. Fausse alerte.
Mais quand, la police, vient
contrôler ses papiers devant le Nouveau Cirque. Le maintenant célèbre Chocolat leur demande s’ils viennent pour un autographe dans une image en contre plongée qui montre bien qu’il est, désormais, sûr de lui-même. Un peu trop. Il se retrouve en prison.
C’est l’enfant qui, timidement, touche son visage pour vérifier si sa couleur de peau n’est pas un maquillage pendant que Chocolat signe un autographe d’une écriture incertaine… Geste qu’il reproduit au Grand Cirque auprès d’un clown concurrent pour signifier son authenticité.

Il finit par reconnaître qu’il a été chocolat, qu’il n’a pas réussi à changer de peau, à être ce qu’il ambitionnait d’être mais que son nom était finalement Chocolat, celui d’un grand clown.

CHOCOLAT,  une homme oublié

1 – Chocolat, de Roschdy ZEM, 2016, 110 mn. S‘inspire librement du livre Chocolat, clown nègre : l’histoire oubliée du premier artiste noir de la scène française de Gérard Noiriel, Bayard 2012. Interprètes principaux Omar SY (Rafaël Padilla dit Kananga puis Chocolat), Jammes Thierrée (Georges Footit), Clotilde Hesme (Marie).

2 – Lumière ! l’aventure commence, de Thierry Frémaux, 2017, 90 min. Ce film présente 108 films de 50 secondes sur plus de 1 000 tournés entre 1895 et 1905 par les frères Lumière et leurs opérateurs dans le monde.

NB : article proposé à Agoravox. On trouvera sur ce blog un article plus détaillé sur le même sujet.

CHOCOLAT,  une homme oublié

CHOCOLAT ou 2 clowns pour le prix d’un

ou 2 clowns pour le prix d’un

Ce film narre l’histoire, au tournant du 19° et 20° siècles, d’un duo de clowns, Footit et son comparse Chocolat (1), premier clown noir qui eut son heure de gloire, à Paris, avant de tomber complètement dans l’oubli.

CHOCOLAT ou 2 clowns pour le prix d’un

Deux clowns pour le prix d’un, c’est ainsi que le patron et maître Jacques du Cirque Delvaux présente la première apparition de Footit et Chocolat sur la piste. Pour le film Chocolat, on pourrait dire deux films pour le prix d’un. En effet, Chocolat présente la vie du fameux clown dans l’atmosphère raciste de l’époque mais aussi l’histoire de son ambition, stimulée par son statut et conclue par l’échec : devenir un homme comme les autres.

C’est sous le nom de Kananga, que le héros apparaît dans un petit cirque où il est présenté comme le roi du pays des mille collines, chaînon manquant (sous entendu entre l’homme et le singe), avec ses cris gutturaux, ses roulement d’yeux, un fémur au poing, un collier de dents humaines, effrayant femmes et enfants et… gagnant de quoi vivre et perdre au jeu.

Après cette entrée spectaculaire, bien connotée, apparaissent les multiples facettes du racisme que subit le héros et auquel d’une certaine façon il se prête. Au cirque, avec ses camarades de jeu – tu finiras à poil comme en Afrique, en Afrique ce n’est pas avec des dés qu’on joue mais avec les os des blancs – plus subtil quand Georges-Footit qui va l’embaucher, lui demande avec une certaine bienveillance, en parlant du singe qu’il est en train de caresser : c’est un garçon ou une fille ?… Tu me comprends ? Un léger temps mort, Kananga se retourne, brutalement, poussant un cri menaçant, effrayant Georges et répond doucement c’est une femelle, on ne dit pas fille chez les singes.
Dans cette scène, l’image en 3 plans illustre la phrase du directeur du cirque sur le chaînon manquant : Georges au premier plan, le singe au fond et Kananga entre les deux.
Racisme inconscient accepté quand, sur l’injonction de Delvaux, – Kananga c’est bon pour un roi nègre, pas pour un clown – Georges le baptise Chocolat et lui explique son rôle dans le duo : tu es le pitre, l’idiot…

CHOCOLAT ou 2 clowns pour le prix d’un

Après avoir, pour gagner sa vie, joué les cannibales, il devient le partenaire de Footit et reçoit, tous les soirs, sa ration de coups de pied au cul qui vont satisfaire la clientèle et conduire le duo à une importante promotion : se produire dans le Nouveau Cirque à Paris. Où la bonne société se presse et où ils connaissent la gloire et, pour Chocolat, le même racisme ambiant auquel il sait répondre. Au Musée Grévin où il a sa statue de cire, des journalistes : Il paraît que vous ne savez pas écrire. Il paraît aussi que je suis incapable de faire rire. Comment se nomme votre prochain numéro ? C’est Guillaume Tell, un lointain cousin suisse. Mais nettement moins beau que moi… Et, dans la presse, Footit et son nègre triomphent au Nouveau Cirque.

Ce succès sur la piste le fait rêver de passer à la scène pour interpréter Roméo et Juliette que Camille, la jeune et belle écuyère du cirque Delvaux, lui a fait découvrir et qu’il a lu plusieurs fois. Victor, un Haïtien, compagnon de cellule, emprisonné pour propos subversifs lui conseille plutôt de jouer Othello qui n’a jamais été joué par un Noir en France.

Cette idée souterraine va rejaillir quand le duo est sollicité pour une campagne publicitaire où, sur un affiche pour le chocolat Félix Potin, avec un contrat fort lucratif, il va apparaître caricaturé, simiesque, à coté de Footit : Chocolat Félix Potin : battu mais content…

Magnifique. On est tous d’accord, se félicitent Georges, le directeur du cirque, le directeur de Félix Potin, sans demander son avis à Chocolat qui s’insurge : Vous faites de moi, une attraction, un animal de foire. Pourquoi vous me dessinez comme ça. C’est moi ? C’est mon visage ?

Sa révolte va se concrétiser sur la piste où Chocolat donne un coup imprévu à Footit qui en tombe à la renverse, physiquement et mentalement. Chocolat, sous les éclats de rire : Eh oui M Footit, vous ne rêvez pas. Et en aparté. Tu vois, ça marche aussi dans ce sens ! C’est fini, Georges.
Il quitte, triomphant, la piste. Tandis que Footit, effondré, salue tristement et se retire vers les coulisses où la caméra l’attend, en contre-plongée, le montre désemparé, écrasé par la masse du cirque et des spectateurs hilares, sur les épaules.

CHOCOLAT ou 2 clowns pour le prix d’un

Pour être Othello, il joue, avec le directeur du Théâtre Antoine, de la couleur de sa peau – Qui d’autre que moi peut jouer Othello avec autant de réalisme. Il est présenté comme un Othello, plus vrai que nature à l’acteur qui va jouer Iago : avec vous, le public ne sera pas chocolat et trompé sur la marchandise.

Il a connu et connaît aussi le racisme dur, celui qu’ont subi ses parents à Cuba, la mère dans les champs de canne à sucre, le père serviteur, humilié, faisant le caniche, sous ses yeux ; son arrestation par la police parisienne, comme sans papier, sur dénonciation de son ancienne patronne ; le traitement violent par les policiers en prison qui le passent au balais brosse sous un jet d’eau pour lui montrer qu’il ne sera toujours qu’un négro.
Le racisme dur, institutionnel, lors de l’Exposition coloniale qu’il visite avec Marie et ses enfants où, devant le zoo humain, on entend la voix d’un guide : Vous êtes en présence de sauvages les plus primitifs… mission civilisatrice tandis que des enfants blancs jettent des pièces que se disputent les enfants exposés. Un jeune Noir, en colère, sort d’une case et interpelle, dans un champ-contre champ qui devient de plus en plus vif, un Chocolat muet, interloqué, dans une langue qu’il ne comprend pas, à coté d’un panneau : Défense de donner à manger aux indigènes, ils sont nourris.

Le plus douloureux est l’échec final dans son rôle d’Othello, hué, par un public raciste : scandaleux, reviens au cirque.

Fuyant alors le théâtre, il est rattrapé par une bande de nervis qui massacrent sa main droite, la main qui vient d’étrangler Desdémone, la femme blanche, la main du joueur qui n’a pas payé ses dettes : c’est celui qui a voulu jouer Othello, il en porte encore l’habit et  le joueur pour ses dettes de jeu, qui est puni.

Kananga-Chocolat, Rafaël Padilla, son véritable nom qu’il espérait pouvoir porter un jour, a définitivement perdu sur tous les plans. Il finit balayeur dans un cirque misérable, atteint de tuberculose, avant d’être arrivé à la cinquantaine.

Il n’a pas connu que le racisme. Il se sent bien dans le petit cirque Delvaux où il a connu l’amour de Camille qu’il oubliera en profitant de sa richesse nouvelle, des femmes, de la vie facile de Paris. L’amour aussi de Marie qui le soutiendra jusqu’au dernier jour, elle même en butte au racisme de la voisinetraînée – d’une cliente au marché – c’est la femme du nègre. C’est elle, infirmière qui a fait jouer le duo des clowns dans un hôpital pour enfants et l’a présenté à un directeur de théâtre qui accepte sa proposition de jouer Othello : C’est gonflé. C’est sacrément gonflé. Le rôle n’a jamais été tenu par un acteur de couleur… ce sera un sacré coup de projecteur pour le théâtre… Mais je compte sur vous pour le remplir, ce théâtre.

S’il veut jouer ce rôle, c’est qu’il l’a très bien compris que toute la pièce, c’est l’échec d’Othello à devenir un homme comme les autres. Ce qu’il ne sait pas encore, c’est à quel point il est Othello : un homme peu accessible à la jalousie. Et qui, une fois, excité par elle a été entraîné jusqu’aux derniers excès.

Car dans son entourage, s’il y avait le racisme auquel il savait répondre, il y avait aussi la jalousie des ambitions contre laquelle il était moins armé. Et qui a, aussi, nourri son ambition.
Jalousie de Camille qui le voit partir avec Footit : C’est quoi ton vrai nomEt lui, pourquoi il ne s’appelle pas Farine ou Pot de chambre ? Fais gaffe aussi, tu n’es pas sa chose à Footit…
Jalousie d’un clown concurrent du Nouveau Cirque qui dévaste la loge du duo.
Jalousie de Georges, qui lui reproche
d’en faire un peu trop, voiture, costumes, ses retards, de négliger son travail pour faire le joli cœur avec Camille puis pour Marie, mais qui cache probablement derrière ces remontrances un penchant homosexuel – on le voit dans un bistrot refuser une proposition, plus tard, lisant un journal avec un ongle verni. Dans un dialogue où Marie est dans l’axe de la caméra et il n’est vu que dans un miroir, il avoue : Moi aussi, je l’ai aimé, nourri, choyé. On m’a regardé comme si j’avais perdu la raison… Tout ça, pour quoi ? Pour qu’il me lâche en peine course. Pour vous plaire. Pour faire le beau au théâtre…
Jalousie chatouillée par Victor, le Haïtien subversif, pour la bonne cause : C’est toi l’artiste qui se fait botter le cul tous les soirs par un blanc ?… Il a peur de te perdre ton Footit. Sans son faire valoir, sa victime préférée, il redevient banal, à pleurer.
Jalousie qui s’exprime finalement dans la colère quand il dit à Georges : quand on touche la paie. C’est toi qui empoche le double. Le double du négro et tu n’es même pas sur l’affiche.

Chocolat qui avait une idée en tête. Il voulait changer. Changer quoi ? J’ai voulu changer de peau, stupide négro. J’étais pas mauvais. Tu étais mieux que ça. Tu étais un prince. J’ai pas trop su aller plus loin. Ensemble, on était les rois. On n’avait pas de limite.
Il restera Chocolat. Avec une ambiguïté souriante, Victor lui avait dit que Chocolat était son identité dans cette société et qu’il était chocolat, pris au piège.
Phrase qu’il assume,
au moment de mourir, devant Georges : il était Chocolat, le grand clown mais aussi chocolat, la victime. L’aventure est finie. Il ne sera jamais reconnu comme Rafaël Padilla.

CHOCOLAT ou 2 clowns pour le prix d’un

1 – Chocolat, réalisé par Roschdy ZEM, 2016, 110 mn. S‘inspire librement du livre Chocolat, clown nègre : l’histoire oubliée du premier artiste noir de la scène française de Gérard Noiriel, Bayard 2012. Interprètes principaux Omar SY (Rafaël Padilla dit Kananga puis Chocolat), Jammes Thierrée (Georges Footit), Clotilde Hesme (Marie).

NB : Une scène du film montre les frères Lumière en train d’enregistrer le duo des clowns. La séquence authentique, filmée par les Lumière est projetée en fin du film.
Actuellement sur les écrans, on peut voir,
Lumière ! l’aventure commence. Un film de Thierry Frémaux qui présente 108 films de 50 secondes sur les plus de 1 000 réalisés par les frères Lumière et leurs opérateurs envoyés à travers le monde.

Guerres du Vietnam et d’Algérie Deux films

Guerres du Vietnam et d’Algérie
Deux films

Guerres du Vietnam et d’Algérie Deux films

Vus par hasard à trois jours d’intervalle, deux films bien différents sur les guerres des États-Unis au Vietnam par un cinéaste étasunien (1) et de la France en Algérie par un cinéaste français (2).

Le premier est un film de guerre, classique, qui raconte un épisode d’après un fait réel qui s’est déroule en 1966.
Dans un bus, un homme jeune dévisage une jeune asiatique et s‘endort.
Il se retrouve dans la guerre du Vietnam. Une permission de sortie ayant été refusée, son supérieur, un sergent, avec trois de ses hommes, enlève une jeune fille dans le but de la violer. Le héros du film ne cesse d’exprimer son désaccord jusqu’à se mettre en danger. Après qu’elle a été violée et blessée, il tente de la soigner mais ne peut la libérer. Au cours d’une attaque contre un groupe vietcong, ils l’assassinent. Le héros du film dénonce ces crimes malgré les tentatives de dissuasion de son commandement hiérarchique. Le sergent et ses complices sont condamnés en cour martiale.
se réveille dans le bus et revoit la jeune asiatique qui a suscité ce retour dans le passé. Vous avez fait un cauchemar mais je pense que c’est terminé maintenant, dit-elle.
C’est la dernière phrase du film. Mais ce n’est terminé ni pour ceux qui ont été au Vietnam, ni pour ceux qui ont été en Algérie.

Le second est un documentaire fait d’entretiens avec des hommes qui, entre 1954 et 1962, ont participé à la Guerre d’Algérie, qui ont connu les tortures, les corvées de bois (exécutions sommaires de prisonniers lors de fuites simulées)… qui n’ont pu oublier et qui, au moment de toucher la retraite d’ancien combattant, décident, enfin, de parler et de donner leur retraite à des associations algériennes. A l’occasion de retours en Algérie, ils retrouvent des anciens combattants de l’autre bord et essaient de nouer une solidarité fraternelle.

Guerres du Vietnam et d’Algérie Deux films

Les films étasuniens qui sont arrivés jusqu’ici et qui dénoncent la guerre du Vietnam sont bien plus nombreux que les films français sur la guerre d’Algérie. Les deux films ci-dessus montrent les difficultés que rencontrent ces jeunes de 20 ans mis dans des situations impossibles. Et tout le monde connaît les dégâts que cela a pu entraîner sur des générations. Le cas des Vétérans a été maintes fois signalé. Les témoignages en France sont plus rares, les appelés se sont très souvent enfermés dans le silence.

Les deux films parlent de responsabilité, de culpabilité ?, des blessures chez ceux qui ont participé à ces guerres mais de façon différente. Dans Casualties of War, il s’agit de jeunes engagés et l’épisode décrit est celui d’un sergent qui entraîne ses subordonnés dans une action criminelle. Dont un soldat au nom hispanique, probablement catholique qui avait promis de refuser. Par l’action du héros, luthérien, avec l’aide d’un aumônier méthodiste, le groupe sera condamné malgré les réticences de la hiérarchie, par le tribunal militaire.

Le héros du film n’a pu sauver la jeune vietnamienne. Celle qu’il voit dans le bus est-elle un reproche muet de son impuissance ? Par qui a-t-elle été sauvée ? Par l’État qui lui permet de faire des études sur un beau campus ? L’État sort totalement indemne de ce film.

Dans Retour en Algérie, il ne s’agit pas d’une bavure mais de pratiques couvertes, assumées par une hiérarchie, dénoncées seulement par le général Jacques de Bollardière (dont la femme témoigne dans le film), mis aux arrêts et condamné à 60 jours de forteresse. Il n’a jamais été réhabilité.
le général Massu, responsable de la bataille d’Alger, des années plus tard, a reconnu : on aurait dû faire autrement.

C’est ce que des milliers d’appelés ont essayé de faire à l’époque (3). C’est ce que certains d’entre eux essaient de faire aujourd’hui, regroupés en association (4)

Guerres du Vietnam et d’Algérie Deux films

1 – Casualties of War (Outrages) de Brian de Palma,1989, 113 mn, se passe en 1966. Ce film a eu une diffusion normale.

2 – Retour en Algérie de Emmanuel Audrain, 2014, 52 mn. Ce film, produit avec l’aide de France Télévisions, n’est passé sur aucune chaîne. Il est diffusé tous les samedis à 11 heures au cinéma Luminor-Hôtel de ville à Paris pendant les mois de février et mars.

3 – Le nombre d’insoumis, déserteurs ou objecteurs de conscience est estimé à 12 000.

4 – Anciens Appelés en Algérie Contre la Guerre (4acg) : association fondée par 4 appelés du contingent en 2004.