Friday, April 6, 2012

F = French Films - A to Z Blog Challenge

Birthplace:  France

In the late 19th century, Auguste and Louis Lumière of France, invented the cinématographe. Their first film in 1895 is considered by many as the birth of cinematography. During the next few years, filmmakers began experimenting with this new medium.

Georges Méliès was one of those filmakers.  He invented many of the techniques now common, and made the first science fiction film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) in 1902. The Méliès background was explored in the story of Hugo, a recent movie release.

Four French Directed Films:

Amélie - or The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain
2001 Comedy/Romance/Drama -  Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Amélie (Audrey Tautou) is a waitress in a Montmartre café. She and her father live alone in a small apartment, her mother having recently passed on.  Her father has made a shrine with his wife's beloved garden gnome in the centre.  As they try to adjust to their new life, Amélie finds a box full of secret remembrances that a past tenant had hidden.  She wants to return it to its owner.  Her quest begins.  And the Gnome goes traveling.

The setting for some of the scenes is a working café in Montmartre.   While she waits tables, Amélie observes the little quirks of affection that people use, and tries matchmaking her co-workers.  On her travels about the city, she begins to notice a
strange young man about her age who collects photos from underneath an instant booth.  She wants to make everyone happy, including herself.  This, she has decided, is her mission in life.

I enjoyed this movie about coping with life's inconsistencies.  Audrey Tautou is perfect in her role as the spunky French girl.  A list , Amelie, The Trailer


The 400 Blows
1955 Crime/Drama - Francois Truffault

A semi-autobiographical French New Wave film, reflecting events of Truffaut's and his friends' lives. Dedicated to André Bazin, the man who influenced Truffault, the film is an exposé of the treatment of juvenile offenders in France during the early 1950s. Antoine is accused of stealing and called a troublemaker. Eventually, he is sent to an observation centre for troubled boys.  It's a harsh lesson in consequences for this young boy.

Quoted from Wikipedia:

"Filmmakers Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Satyajit Ray, Jean Cocteau, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Richard Lester and Norman Jewison have cited The 400 Blows as one of their favorite movies. Kurosawa called it "one of the most beautiful films that I have ever seen."


Jules et Jim
1961 Romance/Drama - François Truffaut

A story about two men who fall for the same woman. The triangle relationship between the three is interrupted by WWI, but continues afterwards.  The film reflects the new attitudes and changing morals of the early sixties;  it was a time of questioning.

Jeanne Moreau, French actress, is the catalyst.  Truffault's films are usually shown at film festivals and may be difficult to find other than online.


Cyrano de Bergerac
1990 - Jean-Paul Rappeneau

The Man

Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac (6 March 1619 – 28 July 1655) was a French dramatist and duelist. He is now best remembered for the works of fiction which have been woven, often very loosely, around his life story, most notably the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand.

The Movie:

Man, Cyrano, who loves unattainable woman, believes himself ugly with no chance to win his heart's love.  He sends love letters and poems in another man's name.  Woman falls for the writer of these letters, never guessing the man is Cyrano. 

What follows is a chain of events that force Cyrano to be honest about his affections.


Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen isn't included in my list as it isn't by a French director, but I recommend seeing it for the setting.

Have you seen any of these films? Please share in the comments if you have seen one of them OR if you know of others.


  1. Haven't seen any of those films yet. (However I did watch Hugo recently!)

    1. Only Amelie and Cyrano are recent films. The Truffault films are probably the most difficult to find.

      Background: I used to belong to a film group that would acquire copies of rare footage of old music films, or art films. There are also a few theatres here which host film festivals: Kurosawa,Fellini,etc. It was a great place to discover international films.

      Hugo counts, Alex,because it gives viewers a hint of an older Paris, but it also displays the French way of viewing life.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  2. My favorite film for France is A Good Year with Russell Crowe and Marion Cottillard. I just love the Provence setting.

    And please don't get me started with French Actors. Louis Jourdin, Maurice Chevalier, Gerard Dipardieu (before he got fat). There's something about a man with a french accent. Kevin Kline was brilliant in French Kiss with Meg Ryan.

    1. I'm glad you have mentioned some of the past French actors, I agree with your assessment. The French female actors of France are impressive too (Catherine Deneuve, Bridget Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Simone Signoret).

      Thanks for mentioning some other films which I haven't seen. See you in the Challenge!

  3. I've seen Hugo, and I thought it was excellent. My 10-year-old son liked it too but my 7-year-old son got a little antsy toward the end (although he claims he liked it). I haven't seen the others though.

    1. A seven year old wants constant action, and parts of HUGO are contemplative. (a kid's got to be a kid).

      Your boys may like the swordplay in the Cyrano movie, but Truffault is definitely for adults (usually about social change or other issues of the day).

  4. I was visiting a friend in Amarillo, Texas and we had were snowed in by a blizzard. She had rented Amelie just out of curiosity. We were bored and so plugged her TV into the generator. It turned out to be the bright spot on a cold day.

    1. That's creative thinking. Glad you liked the movie.

  5. Welcome, Ron Easton, thanks for the follow.

  6. Unfortunately I haven't watched any of these films...I guess I'm not much of a movie buff.
    I did however enjoy reading your post!
    Hope you're enjoying the challenge,
    Monica, Older Mommy Still Yummy

    1. Glad you liked the post, Monica, and thanks for stopping by. I'm enjoying the Challenge, and learning lots!

  7. Wow, the birth place...amazing!
    I loved the movie, Amelie! She is an amazing actress~ This post was informative and fun~

    1. I agree. I liked Audrey Tautou as Sophie in The Da Vinci Code.

  8. Welcome, acadia1997, nice to meet you.

  9. I did not know that about the birth of cinematography. Thanks for sharing! I have not seen any of these movies.

  10. A favorite French film of mine is Le Moustache--a very peculiar and strange film--just my cup of tea.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out


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