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.