Friday, February 12, 2010

I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles. . .

Truthfully, I have never experienced as much snow in my life as I have experienced over the last 3 weeks. The massive amount, now being officially documented as the heftiest snowfall in the area's recorded history, was rare enough for the mid-atlantic region and particularly rare for this part of Delaware as we are usually exempt from snow of any accumulation due to our proximity to the shore.

I won't go into details of the wintry deluge as there are plenty of other blogs and media resources for that - and frankly, after living through the thick of it, I find even blogging about it tiresome to say the least.

What I did find of interest - Paris, one of my favorite places in the world. It just so happened that two of my rentals that managed to arrive in my box just prior to the week long weather related stoppage of any of my mail had one thing in common - Paris.

Thankfully, as I did not lose power as many did in my area, I discovered a great way to pass the hours while stuck inside as the wild and wintry winds whip about the way, is to watch films - Preferably with a jug or two of red wine.

One of these films, a sublime work of art directed by the genius filmmaker and co- founders of the French New Wave François Truffaut, was titled "The 400 Blows".

This film is a true gem. While you may find all of the details listed on the link above, let me say that personally, this masterpiece contains all of the absolute ingredients needed to create a perfect film experience. Believable, compelling, and likable characters that and storyline, wonderful performances, stunning cinematography ( which now after 50 years also has the added essence of being historic as well), and of course - Paris.

In the film, 13 year old troubled youth Antoine Doinel ends choosing to live on the streets of Paris rather than continue attending class in his oppressive school or living in the cramped apartment that he shares with his disinterested, vain and ultimately selfish mother and his bumbling, heavy handed stepfather.

I won't go into details, but take it for granted that his decision ends up being life-changing offering him a definitely hard knock path to follow.

Interestingly enough, the English title is a straight translation of the French, but misses its meaning, as the French title refers to the expression "faire les quatre cents coups", which means "to raise hell". On the first American prints, subtitler and dubber Noelle Gilmore gave the film the title Wild Oats, but the distributor did not like that title, and reverted it to The 400 Blows.

The actor, played by 15 year old Jean-Pierre Léaud is a screen revelation. Truffaut's decision to cast him was pure genius. In the film, there is a compelling scene where Antoine is being interviewed by a social worker of sorts and he is presented with a string of personal questions about his past. I read after watching the film, that that particular scene was actually Jean-Pierre's screen test and Truffaut was so moved by it and so certain that he was the perfect fellow for the role, the he incorporated the scene into the film itself.

I'll save my review of my second Paris themed film, the erotically charged, sexually explicit, yet ultimately yawn producing "The Dreamers" for another day. Rest assured that if you're looking for the authentic French New Wave film experience, rent "The 400 Blows", better yet, make it a double feature and add Godard's classic, "Breathless" to the mix.

But first, toss on your beret, dangle a thick cut cigarette from your lower lip, and grab a cheap jug of red wine. . . because it's going to take a few trips around the old Eiffel Tower for this snow to melt. . .

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