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Jeux Interdits, 1952
[Forbidden Games]

Fossey/PoujoulyForbidden Games is a simple, yet deeply affecting story about loss and the ravages of war. Filmed from the perspective of children, René Clément juxtaposes the innocence of youth with the insight of maturity. The result is a powerful and unrelenting film that operates on a purely visceral level - from the haunting theme to the heartbreaking conclusion. Paulette (Brigitte Fossey), a Parisian girl orphaned during an air raid, retrieves her dead dog from the river, and in the process, gets lost. Michel (Georges Poujouly), a young boy searching for an errant calf, finds her, and takes her home to his family's farm. There is an immediate bond between them, and the children quickly become friends: Paulette, lonely and afraid, and Georges, protective and kind. But the pastoral life proves no more idyllic than occupied Paris, and soon, death takes its toll. Imitating the burial ritual of the adults around them, the children build a crude memorial to honor the dead (a theme similarly developed in Francois Truffaut's The Green Room). It is through their eyes that we cannot see the impossibility of things. It is through our own perspective that we understand the hopelessness of their situation. Forbidden Games is a bittersweet film that shows the devastation of war by touching an emotional cord, without the visual carnage.

Clément uses a narrative style of filming. There are few, if any, cinematic tricks used in the film. The shots are minimalist, direct, and unflinching. Consequently, the film seems journalistic or documentary in style. He presents his visual argument without prejudice, and we, as observers, bring our own life experiences into the analysis of its meaning. The effect is intensely personal, emotionally devastating, and truly unforgettable.

© Acquarello 1998. All rights reserved.

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Plein Soleil, 1960
[Purple Noon]
Delon

Purple Noon is a taut, intelligently written, and well crafted film about an amoral criminal. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon), commissioned to find and bring home an old school acquaintance named Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), the errant son of a wealthy San Francisco businessman, is quickly seduced by the lifestyle of the idle rich. Without independent means, the parasitic Tom immediately leeches onto the squandering, philandering Philippe, who only seems too eager to flaunt his wealth and humiliate him. Soon, Tom's pervasive presence turns a leisurely yachting cruise with Philippe's girlfriend, Marge (Marie Laforet), into a claustrophobic nightmare. After instigating an argument between the two lovers, causing Marge to leave, Tom sets his plot in motion to assume Philippe's identity. Purple Noon is a highly stylized and insidiously clever film on committing the perfect crime.

René Clément uses engaging visual imagery in order to create incongruity throughout the film. Note the idyllic panoramic shots of the Italian landscape, and the deep, rich color of the Mediterranean Sea. As in Jacques Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the setting is a thematic foil to the gravity of the story, resultin in an atmosphere that is disquieting and foreboding. Moreover, the film's inherent lightness serves, not only as a reflection of Tom's charismatic persona, but also his wanton disregard for moral consequence. Unlike Raskolnikov in Fyodor Dostoevsky's
Crime and Punishment, there is no affliction of guilt or hunger for atonement, only the exhilaration of the conquest. Purple Noon is a subtly disturbing film, as is the guileful mind of a man without a conscience... or a soul.

© Acquarello 1998. All rights reserved.

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