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The November 2014 Schedule for TCM

Discussion of programming on TCM.

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Re: The November 2014 Schedule for TCM

Postby kingrat » November 7th, 2014, 8:03 pm

LE SILENCE DE LA MER is a remarkable film, an even more remarkable first film. Great work by Henri Decae as cinematographer and Edgar Bischoff as composer. The music becomes an important character in the story. I was captured from the beginning where the novel is transmitted as a secret document, which it was during the Resistance.

This film would make a great double feature with PERSONA, another great double bill with Cocteau’s LA BELLE ET LE BETE because that story is referenced. The German officer sees himself as the Beast, and of course he is letting the niece know that he sees her as Beauty. Like Bergman, Melville undoubtedly knew Strindberg’s one-act play THE STRONGER. Which is the stronger, the one who speaks or the ones who listen?

In the early scenes the officer is shown from low-angle shots to make him seem larger, more menacing, while the uncle and niece are, especially at first, shown from high-angle shots overhead. About halfway through, after the officer performs the Bach prelude, this changes. There is a stunning shot fairly early in the film where the officer stretches his hands out toward the fireplace while at the right the hands of the niece seem to reach into the shot, toward him. This sets the stage for what will happen between the two characters. The confined setting doesn’t seem to limit Melville or Decae at all. Notice, also, how Melville waits to show us a swastika and a picture of Hitler, and how much he makes of them.

There’s one astonishing shot of a cathedral seen across a field, and the camera keeps panning right until it finds a tank. I also liked how when the officer is going away, the room is in fairly deep shadow while outside the house is dazzlingly bright; this is the opposite of the emotions expressed at the time.

A big shout-out to Howard Vernon who plays the German officer. Another to JF for her wonderful response to the film. Another to TCM for showing LE SILENCE DE LA MER in a handsome print. And another to my public library, which has LE SAMOURAI, LE CERCLE ROUGE, ARMY OF SHADOWS, and LE DEUXIEME SOUFFLE available for borrowing.

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Re: The November 2014 Schedule for TCM

Postby kingrat » November 10th, 2014, 2:02 pm

I can understand anyone not liking LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES, for adolescent siblings Paul and Elisabeth are not very likable. To put it another way, this is one of the truest, most honest portrayals of adolescence I’ve ever seen.

Jean Cocteau—for this is his film more than Jean-Pierre Melville’s, although Melville has translated Cocteau’s novel into film magnificently—plunges us into that ugly, messy, shapeless, volatile, terribly exciting moment of youth where love for one sex blends into the other, where desire to break away battles with the stubborn demand to keep everything the same, where attraction to the glamorous wars with the everyday, where love blooms, dies, and recycles at dizzying speed. If Paul and Elisabeth escape the room they share in their mother’s apartment, they will re-create it in the odd, unfunctional gallery in the house owned by a wealthy American.

SPOILERS AHEAD: Therefore, the sweet and normal Gerard (Jacques Bernard) loves his glamorous classmate Paul (Edouard Dermithe) and thus falls for Elisabeth (Nicole Stephane), the sister who is almost but not quite Paul in feminine form. Paul falls in love with the sweet and gentle Agathe (Renee Cosima) because she resembles his brutal classmate Dargelos, and he treats her badly, just as Dargelos treats him. Paul misaddresses his love letter to Agathe, signing his own name on the envelope. What could describe adolescence more precisely? How fitting, too, that Elisabeth is the one who reads the letter, for she sees no separation between herself and Paul.

Notice how much information and emotion Melville puts into his shots of the snowball fight and the taxi at the opening of the film. Paul is stunned that the snowball with the rock in it comes from Dargelos, whom he loves; Dargelos’ smile lets us know that he knows Paul’s feelings; Gerard loves Paul but Paul only sees him as a friend. In mid-film, the overhead shot of the main characters ascending a staircase to the gallery is stunning in its beauty.

A 1950s American version of this story would turn it into one Freudian “Aha!” after another. Aha, incest! Aha, repressed homosexual feelings! Cocteau and Melville simply take these for granted. To use another comparison, LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES is much tougher-minded than REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Cocteau provides a myth of adolescence which encapsulates the reality of it.

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Re: The November 2014 Schedule for TCM

Postby ziggy6708a » November 14th, 2014, 10:23 pm

great write-ups on the 2 engrossing Melville films. Thanks, KR


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