Georges Franju

Scen.: Georges Franju. F.: Marcel Fradetal. M.: Roland Coste. Mus.: Maurice Jarre. Int.: Michel Simon (voce narrante). Prod.: Paul Legros per Forces et Voix de France. 35mm. D.: 22’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

This, the third film in Franju’s “slaughter triptych” as Raymond Durgnat calls it, confirms his method: the idea is not to subvert the commission, but to take it literally and go all the way to its logical consequences. The film is a tour of Paris’ Hôtel des Invalides and its museum. The commentary, sternly and pedantically descriptive, is complemented by those of the guides. It is enriched by many almost imperceptible modulations in Michel Simon’s voice: he might be inviting us on a new visit of Père Jules’ cabin, in L’Atalante. Who is to suspect, or not, the fervent anarchist behind the speaker? Threatening clouds and flights of birds, signifying madness for the filmmaker, but a familiar sight to the Parisian, are followed by the tour of the museum, whose guides, heard only once on-camera, are to all appearances neutral. But their repeated words and rhyming sounds create uncanny meanings. Elements of fiction are created by the soundtrack with songs or battlefield noises. A periscope serves a double purpose, as a mirror for a smart lady to check her appearance and as instrument of murderous attack. At the end only the gueules cassées (facially disfigured veterans) appear, loaded with medals. The St Francis de Sales Children’s Choir, also featured in En Passant par la Lorraine, sing Auprès de ma blonde.

Bernard Eisenschitz

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by courtesy of Gaumont