Jacques Davila

Lit.trad.: La campagna di Cicerone; Scen.: Jacques Davila; Adat.: Jacques Davila, Michel Hairet, Gérard Frot-Coutaz; F.: JeanBernard Menoud; Mo.: Christiane Lack; Scgf.: Jean-Jacques Gernolle; Mu.: Bruno Coulais; Su: Gérard Lecas; Int.: Tonie Marshall (Nathalie), Sabine Haudepin (Françoise), Jacques Bonnaffé (Hippolyte), Michel Gautier (Christian), Judith Magre (Hermance), Jean Roquel (Charles-Henry), Antoinette Moya (Simone), Carlo Brandt (Simon), Jean-Jacques Moreau (the director); Prod.: Nicole Azzaro, Guy Cavagnac, Jacques Leclère, Jean Petit per Les Ateliers Cinématographiques Sirventes, Les Films Aramis; Pri. pro.: 14 marzo 1990. 35mm. D.:107’. Col.

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

When La Campagne de Cicéron – third and last feature-length by Jacques Davila – was released, it was highly praised by Eric Rohmer, who saw it as indicating a renewal of French cinema, moving away from the dominant aesthetics of the 1980s. A film about holidaying, as was Les Dernières Vacances by Roger Leenhardt, it belongs, however, to a certain tradition nurtured at the time by the directors gravitating around Paul Vecchiali and the Diagonale company: Gérard Frot-Coutaz, Jean-Claude Biette, Marie-Claude Treilhou and Davila himself were all equally sensitive to quality in dialogue – very literary – and acting (after all, most of the actors and actresses in La Campagne de Cicéron came from the theatre). “Vaudeville ending badly” (to quote Davila), La Campagne de Cicéron also gives in to the temptation of the burlesque – such a rare case in French cinema that it deserves pointing out – which reaches a level where it explicitly cites Keaton and Tati. La Campagne de Cicéron is one of the most successful undertakings in the cinema decentralization constituting one of the main axes in Minister Jack Lang’s cultural policies, introduced following the 1981 leftwing victory. In the Midi-Pyrénées area, this decentralization came in the form of a production house named ACS (Ateliers Cinématographiques Sirventès), with Guy Cavagnac at its helm. Forty or so shorts and five feature-length films were created here in just under ten years. However, a few weeks before the commercial release of La Campagne de Cicéron, the company went into liquidation. These difficulties partly explain the complete disappearance of the film, since it seems that all the copies printed in 1990 have been destroyed. And this offers yet more evidence of the pressing need to consider the cinema of the last forty years as a heritage, one that is as precious as the silent cinema and requiring urgent safeguarding.

Christophe Gauthier, Cinémathèque de Toulouse


Dear Jacques Davila, I saw your film. It was enchanting. Even more: a shock. The same kind of feeling I had one evening in 1946 or 7, at the Studio Raspail, at the screening of Dames du bois de Boulogne. Just as Les Dames was for the 50s, I am convinced that La campagne de Cicéron will be the landmark film of the 90s. Do not be surprised by this comparison. I know: the two films do not have much in common; I think that you have shed better than anyone else this Bressonian stench that still lingers in French cinema d’auteur. But, in both cases, an indisputably and triumphantly new air pervades the work. Like in 1945 Bresson questioned the “poetic realism” of the pre-war period, you brush away in one swoop the fashionable aesthetics (actually already démodée) of the 70s-80s: that expressionism, dramaticism that pretended to be style, that cult for advertising photography that had nothing to do with pictorial quality, the poverty of narration and dialogues that were supposed to signify who knows what modernity, but were instead pure and simple inability. You bring rigor, invention, intelligence, poetry (real poetry, not just the video-clip variety), truth, the beauty of words, gestures and, of no lesser value after so many dismal years, finally humor. Your film shows that not only is film not “over with” but that the world it examines and visits has not stopped revealing its everyday splendors. Your film is one of those films that teach us to see and give us the desire to say as Rimbaud said: “Maintenant, je sais saluer la beauté”.

Eric Rohmer, Lettre à Jacques Davila, “Cahiers du Cinéma”, n. 429, March 1990

Restored in 2009-2010 at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, with the support of Foundation Groupama-Gan
pour le Cinéma from a super-16mm image negative and a 35mm magnetic sound negative preserved at Cinémathèque de Toulouse