Florence Dauman (Argos)
In the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Hélène (Seyrig) believes she will recover lost time with a former lover, who, instead, arrives with a new flame. Her stepson Bernard (Thierrée) is obsessed with the memory of Muriel, a girl he tortured during the Algerian war. At a time when Algeria was not mentioned in French film, Resnais and screenwriter Jean Cayrol (a concentration camp survivor and author of Night and Fog) brought the subject to the screen indirectly as the source of disruption to family dynamics in provincial bourgeois France. Set in a town still marked by the Second World War, the film, like much of Resnais’s work, elaborates on memory but also the unrepresentability of horror and violence. Its style is complex, experimental but never gratuitous (“Muriel marks the advent of twelve-tone cinema”, wrote Henri Langlois). With Hans Werner Henze’s intense soundtrack and Sacha Vierny’s dazzling photography, it is an elegiac, angry, sentimental and meditative story that subtly describes the relationships between the characters and the weight of the past on their lives. The young protagonist, a frustrated and alienated rebel, is akin to Godard’s and Truffaut’s New Wave characters but is observed at a critical distance. One of the director’s masterpieces, it won the Special Jury Prize at Venice and Delphine Seyrig the Volpi Cup.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Jean Cayrol. F.: Sacha Vierny. M.: Kenout Peltier, Eric Pluet. Scgf.: Jacques Saulnier. Mus.: Hans Werner Henze. Int.: Delphine Seyrig (Hélène), Jean-Pierre Kérien (Alphonse), Nita Klein (Françoise), Jean- Baptiste Thierrée (Bernard), Laurence Badie (Claudie), Claude Sainval (Roland De Smoke), Jean Champion (Ernest), Martine Vatel (Marie-Dominique), Jean Dasté (l’uomo della capra). Prod.: Argos films, Alpha Productions, Les Films de la Pléiade, Dear Film Produzione. DCP. D.: 116’. Col.
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