Archive for the ‘CLASSIC CINEMA’ Category

“A prophet”, directed by Jacques Audiard in 2009.


Malik has been sentenced to six year’s imprisonment. His lawyer let him know that as an adult he will be transferred to the central (a prison reserved for inmates serving long sentences). He is manhandled upon his arrival by the Corsican group which gets its paws on him during the first walk. The boss Cesare Luciani tells him what his mission is: to make friends with a fellow prisoner, cut his throat in his cell and make it look like a suicide. Malik, realizing that he has no choice, beats someone up in the attempt to be sent to the isolation ward. Unluckily he gets caught by the prison guards who are bribed by the Corsicans. Malik then carries out the deal with a razor blade hidden in the jaw.

Without anyone to pay him a visit, Malik will rapidly finds himself at home in the prison. He will benefit, as his elders do, from small privileges granted by the protection of Luciani. Having no real alternative, Malik will adapt to the environment in which he is immersed and will learn very quickly how to progress in the underworld. Taking advantage of its weekly release, he begins his own business on the outside. His scheming will comes into conflict with the Luciani’s interests.

“The Prophet” is a film which shows us the learning in the process. It portrays a young offender whose detention will turn him into a hardened criminal. But make no mistake, this picture is no ordinary gangster film. It is rather the story of a special destiny changing before our eyes from the beginning to the end of his confinement.

Jacques Audiard’s film has a sense of unparalleled power, a film in which we witness the making of a criminal. A story where brutality and malleability are respectively expressed by Niels Arestrup Tahar Rahim. Both characters complement each other perfectly. The two performances were justly rewarded by the Cesar statuette award for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor.

Needless to mention however what the film is not about. Indeed, the political dimension of reintegration after jail term is completely absent of the film. It was simply not the director’s intent to raise the issue. Equally unnecessary is the criticizing of the film for its lack of reality, the audience knows that the prison situation in France is not that of the United States. What matters is that the film is credible and in that sense “a prophet” is truer than reality.


HIROSHIMA MY LOVE, by Alain Resnais.


In 1959, Hiroshima has become a city of peace, a city cultivating the memory of the catastrophe. In this context, a French actress is acting in a film about peace. The next morning we find her entwined in the arms of a Japanese architect she met at the “New Hiroshima” hotel.

Supposed to be a one night stand, that love will eventually awake the painful memory of a forbidden love. A youthful love for a German soldier she paid dearly for. In her hometown Neuverre, this was considered a treachery in wartime and had not been forgiven. The mistreatment she suffered from 17 years ago suddenly reappear on the occasion of this new passion to which she cannot commit.

Our heroine with a distant look is haunted by these painful memories which will eventually take over. The psychological scars caused by her incarceration are stopping her from surrendering to this budding romance. Unable to cling to anything real, she keeps reliving in thoughts that first love shattered by war.

The time of narration, here given by the detached voice of the actress, is repeated in the film. A repetition of the tragic events that cannot be prevented in history.

The atomic bomb, without being the topic of the film, hovers above it. A theme even better addressed when almost absent. A story of impossible love as basis for a film on Hiroshima: this is something paradoxical enough to speak about a disaster which is most difficult to handle.

“Pete the madman”, a film by Jean-Luc Godard. Released in 1965.


Ferdinand is tired of the meaningless life he has in Paris. Those around him are only concerned with their material needs. And that he cannot stand. Only books and poetry in particular matters to him. One evening on the way home, he accidentally meets Marianne, a previous love, who came to babysit his children. Then leaves it all and spend the night with her in her apartment. The next morning Fernand comes acrss a dead body. She explain that she is pursued by gangsters for an arms trafficking affair to which she has been unintentionally involved. They go south and then burn the car on the roadside. This is the beginning of a long getaway to the sunny south, where their passion leads them. But soon enough, their respective sense of freedom will take over their mad love.

Jean-Luc Godard inspired by a novel by Lionel White, transposes it to the screen adding his staccato style and revealing all its poetry. The ellipses, which punctuate the story from beginning to end, give the narrative a sense of breakneck speed. All these breaks in the film, like the ones in timing or the fact that the actors speak directly to the camera, are all transgressions vis-à-vis the “cinema de papa”. A film moving with the times in a libertarian tone that caused the film to be censored. A fiery hero and a free woman, we have there two characters who prefigure the student movement of 1968.