Un chapeau de paille d’Italie (1928)

1 07 2010

This is the earliest full-length film I’ve seen of Rene Clair but as his sound films would later do, this demonstrates that his “modern detractors” didn’t really know what they were talking about. Sure, this film, like almost all of Clair’s work can be described as light and frivolous, but those terms don’t exactly mean that it’s a work devoid of any artistic merit. On the contrary, once again I find Clair’s humor (as silly as it is) to be the perfect compliment to his cinematic design. This isn’t a revolutionary work in terms of film-making, but it really shouldn’t be. It’s an artist honing his skills, which I guess would lead me to consider this something of a warm-up to his later films.

I think Clair had numerous fascinating ideas about how to implement sound, but of course, you can throw those out the window here. I suppose on that level alone, this film feels a lot less experimental than even the earlier Paris qui dort which at least has the whole sci-fi element to hang its hat on in the terms of “uniqueness.” This is a step in the right direction from that film, but it’s still sort of a unifying piece (at least in my eyes) to his work of the early 1930s.

There’s not much to note here aside from being a “very Clair” type of film, but I do think the critical response from Clair’s native France has always been something of interest. He’s always been viewed as a primitive and old-fashioned director whose roots lie more in literature than cinema. I mention this only because this particular film is based on a novel, and the idea of reworking a novel into cinema was something that Clair was generally against. This all sort of makes sense in the realm of the film because there’s a literary tone to it, but it manages to capture Clair’s preference for visuals over word. It’s a wordy comedy, but there’s not many inter-titles. A good way to pass some time on the morning of one’s birthday.



One response

28 08 2017

Je nageais dans la choucroute mais une fois visitévotre site internet, jee
comprends . merci

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