Archive for Juliette ou la Clef du Songes

The Key of Songs

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2008 by dcairns

This is the ending of Marcel Carné’s JULIETTE, OU LA CLEF DES SONGES. Don’t watch it if you don’t want to see what happens at ending of Marcel Carné’s JULIETTE, OU LA CLEF DES SONGES.

Why is it here, on Shadowplay, in Sexy Week? Just because of Gerard Philipe, I guess. When Fiona first saw him, in René Clair’s LA BEAUTE DU DIABLE, she struggled to concentrate on the film because Philipe was so lovely. It helped that he was playing the devil, with cute little horns in his hair…

GP does actually look a bit like a cartoon frog, I think. In cartoons, they often give frogs necks, slender and elegant ones. It was Chuck Jones who observed the essential necklessness of the true frog, and captured in in his seminal toon ONE FROGGY EVENING. But with his slender neck and big, wide eyes, GP is like an attractive cartoon frog that’s transformed into a handsome prince, maybe just retaining a little trace of frogginess as a reminder of his humble pond-based origins. Which makes him all the more endearing.

I’m also sharing this scene with you because it’s a hard film to see, and because there’s a general idea that Carné stopped being of any interest when he stopped collaborating with his screenwriter on the early works, Jacques Prevert. I haven’t seen enough later Carné, just this one (which I think was the first movie my benshi film describer friend David Wingrove translated for me), and LA VISITE MARVELLEUSE, but they’re both very interesting and certainly in keeping with Carné’s poetic and romantic sensibility. And LES PORTES DE LA NUIT, the last completed Carné-Prevert collaboration, which flopped at the box office and has the reputation of being an artistic failure, is a KICK-ASS piece of poetic realism. Just DEVASTATING. It might actually be my favourite of all their films.

In this scene, our hero tries to return to the fantastical Wonderland/Oz/Neverland of Juliette. He succeeds.. at a price.