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 Hotel du Nord - Zone 2 UK (a review)-

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michel sanvoisin


Nombre de messages : 85
Localisation : rue des moines, paris
Date d'inscription : 11/11/2006

MessageSujet: Hotel du Nord - Zone 2 UK (a review)-   Sam 10 Nov - 13:10

I just came upon this review of the famous Carne movie with Arletty : Hotel du Nord on Jonathan Miller blog.

a quick cut & paste in case it disappears someday :

Citation :
An amazing treat is available with the UK release on DVD of an
exquisite restored print of Marcel Carné’s extraordinary pre-war
masterwork, Hôtel du Nord.
This was not Carné’s enduring classic - that was Les Enfants du Paradis
(1945). Compared to the later film, Hotel du Nord is flawed in many
ways. But this glorious print nevertheless reveals a film in which
every frame is masterful.
Hotel du Nord was released in 1938 in a France caught between on the
one hand its humanity (the Popular Front, the adoption of Spanish
orphans) and the disillusion and cynicism that was an accurate
foretaste of what was to come.
So although this film is categorised as “poetic realism,” which is a
term I am not certain I understand, it was certainly metaphorical and
the grim suicide pact at the heart of this film is about more than the
broken dreams of a single couple.
Yet this film has a hard time shaking off a reputation as a slight
disappointment. Perhaps because the allegory was too painful to
see/admit at the time. Perhaps because the allegory was overwhelmed by
the glorious production and the outstanding performance of Arletty
against which it was pretty hard for some of the others to make an
impact, especially Jean-Pierre Aumont, who is barely in the script.
Perhaps also because the film was rather quickly forgotton - banned
during the war, it was afterwards something of a period piece;
Arletty’s own reputation was sullied by her behaviour during the
occupation. She excused herself later with the memorable line: « J’ai
le coeur aussi Francais que le votre, mon cul, lui, est international! »
That most people were subsequently only ever to see knackered
versions with poor sound and damaged pictures did not help. Outside
France the film has been rather unknown. That’s why the French team
that have restored this film deserve great honour.
Looking at it 70 years later, the film is without any doubt
revolutionary. This was a film that elevated mis en scene to a new
standard, as the artifice of the set achieved unprecedented
verisimilitude. There is still a hotel du Nord on the Canal
Saint-Martin, but the one everyone knows is the one in the film.
It is not just the hotel but the recreation of the Canal itself with
its passerelles and écluses that marks this as one of the greatest sets
ever created for the French cinema. It was impossible to turn the film
on the actual Canal Saint-Martin in Paris so a replica was built at
Billancourt, a set so expensive that the film’s backers said it would
have been cheaper to recreate the Place Vendôme. It became a tourist
attraction in its own right, attracting Picasso amngst others.
The script has always been somewhat harshly judged against what it
might have been had it been written by Carné’s usual writer, Jacques
Prévert, who was not available. It could be argued that narratively,
the story is pretty improbable. All this can be forgiven for the set
pieces and the fluent Parigot.
The British edition has a good introduction by the film historian
Paul Ryan and includes English subtitles, which can be switched off if
you are very brave. It however lacks the rich extras included on the
French edition which is available from the usual French websites.


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