HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Monos
Life at the Top
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
   
 
Newest Articles
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
   
 
  Marseillaise, La The Mensch RevolutionBuy this film here.
Year: 1938
Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Pierre Renoir, Lise Delamare, Léon Larive, William Aguet, Elisa Ruis, Marie-Pierre Sordet-Dantès, Yveline Auriol, Louis Jouvet, Jean Aquistapace, Georges Spanelly, Jaque Catelain, Pierre Nay, Edmond Castel, Andrex, Edmond Ardisson, Paul Dulac
Genre: Drama, Historical
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: France 1789 and there are rumblings of revolution in the air, so when one of the Dukes visits King Louis XVI (Pierre Renoir) in his palace, the news he has to impart is far from beneficial to the aristocracy who have sustained the status quo of keeping the poor down in their perceived place for too long. The landowners see fit to enforce petty rules with serious consequences should they be crossed, which leaves the peasants at their mercy, but now with the storming of the Bastille prison in the heart of Paris, it appears the tide is turning and those cruel noblemen will no longer have it all their own way. However, a revolution does not necessarily happen overnight, and there is a long road ahead for the lower classes...

La Marseillaise was Jean Renoir's tribute to both the revolutionaries of two centuries before and the Popular Front movement which had taken Communist values to the government of France in a display of left wing patriotism that in theory demonstrated the nation could join together in unity for a cause they all could get behind. Aware their neighbours to the East were making fascist moves towards extending their influence, this was an important statement to be emphasising, but Renoir had hoped his epic would be made and released in 1936, so when the funding didn't arrive to complete the movie until two years later, there was a sense that the party was over and he had shown up too late to make a difference.

With the future looking grim, most of the potential audience of '36 had dissipated, and it was a less celebratory and more reflective drama that Renoir crafted at any rate, offering a more rounded look at both sides of the Revolution even if he was essentially backing the rebels. His methods were plain to see: concentrate on the little guy, the small cog in the big machine, to paint the larger picture, and so it was we were offered a selection of episodes plucked from a period of years, taking us from the news of the Revolution reaching the hopelessly unprepared King to the battle against the Prussian Army of some time later that was regarded as a definitive event in forging the new republic. This would have been stirring stuff to the French patriots, if things were not looking bleak.

The defeatist attitude did not run through La Marseillaise, but there was a consideration that this momentous history was not without its sacrifices and regrets: it does not depict the extreme violence and barbarism that accompanied la Terreur, but we do note the latter stages of the drama where the screen is littered with bodies and possibly the most sympathetic character has been fatally injured (not killed immediately, so that he can get a big speech and move the audience to tears, or that was presumably the idea). By that last act, just as the men from Marseiiles composed the titular anthem during their journey on foot, the strands of plot have united and we get to see the players both major and minor interact, well-orchestrated by the director.

That said, his conception of good humour and camaraderie can grate over the two hours plus it took to tell his stories, and the peasants are horny-handed sons of the soil who speak plainly and act roguish belying their firmly held convictions when the conflict becomes too major to ignore. Interestingly, Renoir was not interested in depicting the upper classes as out and out villains; sure, there were powdered wig-sporting snobs drawing their swords to keep the great unwashed down, but quite often they were shown with an almost childlike naivety, especially the King, as if they could not grasp the severity of both the situation and their unthinking actions that formed the crucible for revolt. One scene where politics is discussed ends with the toffs forgetting all that to chat about dancing in the proper manner, which might have been funny but instead is rather uneasy, and the King (played by the director's brother) is clueless in a fashion almost tragic as Marie Antoinette (Lisa Delamare) recognises power slipping away. More nuanced than you might expect. Music by Joseph Kosma and Henry Sauveplane.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1091 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: