Script: Alfred Machin. Photography: Jacques Bizeuil, Paul Flon. Interpreters: Baert (Adolph Hardeff), La Berni (Lidia Modzel), Albert Hendrickx (Sigismond Modzel), Fernand Crommelynck (padre Modzel), Nadia d’Angély (madre Modzel), Henri Goidsen (Lieutenant Maxim). Production: Belge Cinéma Films, Pathé. DCP. Duration: 44′. Col.
Of the many gems the cinema of the Teens holds, one of the most breathtaking is undoubtedly Maudite soit la guerre. Rediscovered by Eric de Kuyper at the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam in the 1990s, this anti-war melodrama, filmed by Alfred Machin immediately before the War in his studio and around Brussels, revealed one of the most talented directors of the Teens and an almost unrivalled use of film technique from editing and air fights to the unforgettable use of color, and one of the best pacifist movie ever made.
As Eric de Kuyper so precisely wrote in an important essay about the film, its narrative text and subtext(s) are all supported by a wonderfully precise use of stencil coloring – almost unique at the time for its extensive use – and for the fascinating interaction with tinting and toning.
Unavoidable chapter in the history of color in film, the chromatic composition of Maudite soit la guerre is constructed around the leitmotiv of two pastel, understated colors, the pink of the geraniums in the girl’s villa and the variations of brown (from terra di siena to ochre) of the uniforms and the battlefield, with the reds of the explosions providing the counterpoint.