Sog.: Marianne Oswald. Scen.: Marianne Oswald, Remo Forlani. Scen.: Georges Franju. F.: Eugen Schüfftan. M.: Henri Colpi, Jasmine Chasney. Mus.: Georges Delerue. Int.: Pierre Devis (il ragazzo), Lisbeth Persson (la bambina). Prod.: Anatole Dauman, Sammy Halfon, Phillippe Lifchitz per Argos Films. 35mm. D.: 23’. Bn.
It needs only a little imagination for our most habitual actions to become charged with a disquieting significance, for the décor of our daily life to give birth to a fantastic world. Monsters and fairies lie within our grasp. This film is dedicated to those who have not betrayed their childhoods, who at the age of ten discovered both love and separation.
Boileau-Narcejac, introduction to the film
All of Franju’s documentaries comprise a strong fictional element and often dramatic scenes. But this last short, made before he turned his hand to feature films, constitutes his first 100% fictional production, based on a screenplay co-written by the singer Marianne Oswald with that literary jack-of-alltrades, Remo Forlani. La Première nuit is about finding freedom. A child from a prosperous neighbourhood emerges from school and escapes his everyday routine (the driver waiting to take him home) to plunge into a new world: the metro with its crowds and its emptiness, its fabulous décor and its promise of implausible encounters. In 1937, Franju had written a pioneering essay, Notes sur le style de Fritz Lang. Here he transfigures this subterranean world with the help of another master of light and shadow, Eugen Schüfftan, who went on to shoot both Franju’s La Tête contre les murs and Les Yeux sans visage. La Première nuit is also a film dream, which has been compared to Buster Keaton’s stepping through the screen in Sherlock Jr.