Archive for August 30, 2008

The Great Duvivier Giveaway

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2008 by dcairns

Yes. In a daring rear-guard action to promote the reputation of defunct French film director Julien Duvivier, Shadowplay is GIVING AWAY DVD-Rs copied from a decomposing late ’80s VHS off-air recording “borrowed” from the Lindsay Anderson Archive in Glasgow. I will personally send a copy to everyone who asks for one. The quality will of the disc be shit. The quality of the film is unspeakably superb.

While I would hope all regular Shadowplayers will jump at this chance, I also want to hear from lurkers and loiterers who don’t usually expose themselves in the Comments section. “Come out in the light and let’s have a look at you!” This is partly just an excuse to involve more of you. This is an open-ended, long-standing offer, until somebody brings out an official release of this movie with subtitles, or hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

By accepting this once-in-a-lifetime lunatic offer you undertake to watch the film, copy the film, recommend the film, distribute the film, and if it becomes possible, by the rights and publish the film on your own DVD label, which you have to call DaViD DVD. Apart from that, there are no obligations. No salesman will call.

What are you getting? LA FIN DU JOUR is a tender, funny, tense and beautiful drama set in a troublous home for retired actors. It stars Victor Francen, Louis Jouvet and Michel Simon. Ironically, while playing characters in their late sixties, the three stars were only in their ’40s or ’50s. Porridge-faced insult to physiognomy Michel Simon was only a few years older than myself — which makes me feel really good.

Although Duvivier practically cultivated the image of anonymous artisan, in fact this is one of his most personal films. An actor in his youth, Duvivier switched to directing after a traumatic incident in which he “dried” and “died” on stage, a scene recreated in this movie. Despite being about oldsters, LA FIN DU JOUR is bristling with action, suspense, suicide attempts, madness, adultery, concussion and grumbling. And it has definite remake possibilities if Hollywood is listening.

The year was 1939 and the French film industry was about to be upset, violently. Duvivier would spend the war years in America, where he made THE GREAT WALTZ, FLESH AND FANTASY and TALES OF MANHATTAN, which are far easier to see than most of his French films. I’d say that if you like the American movies, you’re certainly in for a treat if and when you see the French ones.

A TASTER! But a perverse one: this is the end of the movie, so you might not want to look. (SPOILER ALERT) One of the characters has died. In his will, he explains that he’s written his own funeral oratory, because he wants to know what people say about him after he’s gone. He was an untalented, unsuccessful actor, so this is really his last chance to rewrite his career as a triumph. It falls to his worst enemy to read the vainglorious self-penned elegy…

Isn’t that great? Now let’s be having you.