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René Clair, from the Avant-Garde to Realism

Table of Contents

René Clair was born in Paris in 1898. Worldwide he is considered one of the most important directors of French cinema, of which he interprets and summarizes the highest part of history, a role later assumed by François Truffaut.

Who is René Clair?

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René Clair is well known in Anglo-Saxon countries and in Italy. In his search for a universal human comedy beyond history and technical evolution, it is the artist who connects Charlie Chaplin to De Sica, long before the angry youths of the Nouvelle Vague

Cinema is the fundamental interest of René Clair’s entire life. He practices both criticism and filmmaking with enthusiasm. In fact, one of his articles on cinema is entitled The son of the century waiting for a film. At the same time he identifies with the future developments of the seventh art therefore from the beginning he chooses an eloquent pseudonym that combines rebirth and clarity. 

However, he is not very different intellectually from his comrades of the avant-garde. Born and raised in the environment of the Parisian commercial bourgeoisie, he knows the now declining charm of the Belle Epoque, the refinements of a declining symbolism. His first writing published in 1916 is a farewell to Emile Verhaeren. There is also the drama of the great war which pushes literature to a certain sterility. 

René Clair’s Idea of Cinema

In this great disillusionment he approaches Delluc, Abel Gance and characters like L’Herbier, who embarked on a film career before him. On the other hand it is equally close to Dadaism and a surrealism which favors cinema as a counterculture, pure expression of the unconscious. It is precisely this that makes his situation singular. 

Starting from the chronicles of 1922 entitled Intransigeant, or to the magazine Films, of which he is editor-in-chief, while praising and appreciating the visual strength represented by the great North American authors such as Douglas Fairbanks or Charles Ray, Charlie Chaplin and Stroheim, Claire begins as a predecessor of Truffaut to attack the French cinema, a film production polluted with literary references and artistic ambitions that hide behind the plastic research of the avant-garde. 

René Clair is probably the first cinephile director-actor of the history of cinema. According to Clair, we need to go back to the inspiration of the early cinema, to the tradition of the 1900s, hidden by the pretensions of the art film. According to Clair, we need to go beyond language from the avant-garde, to which it confers at the same time a retrospective dimension road. 

As if the seventh art could regenerate itself only by going back to its origins, forgetting everything learned and going in search of one’s own maturity by trial and error. The misunderstandings relating to his first films originate from this conception of cinema: they seem to be the apex of cinematic modernity from which they distance themselves. 

René Clair’s Films

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The Invisible Ray, shot in extreme conditions thanks to patron Henry Diamant Berger, is an experimental film that scoffs at excess expressionism and the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, and uses the most naive editing tricks of early cinema to revive a primitive marvel.

Entr’act, the subject of whichdown in a few lines Francis Picabia, brings together the Parisian cultural climate of the crazy years, from Marcel Duchamp to Marcel Achard, and the tics of wroteautomatic writing to rediscover the relentless rhythm of old style teachings . 

The young filmmaker engages in a burial of the avant-garde, in a decomposition of the founding principles of the cinematographic movement. 

From the beginning it justifies the admirable definition that André Bazin gives of his art “The stylization of characters and situations, the reduction of the world to a moral conjuncture, in René Clair coincides splendidly with the very essence of cinema, which is image and movement “. 

His work is that of a moralist, because he was able to rediscover the morality of cinema. It is as a moralist that Clair unveils in the novel Adams, of 1926, the enchanting devices of Hollywood, and in a 1927 conference he claims The Cinema against the spirit

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The Invisible Ray

After a few transitional films, the most successful of which is probably the least ambitious, The Prey of the Wind confirms his status as a negative author with two adaptations from Labiche: The Italian Straw Hat and Two Timid Souls. In them he demonstrates the self-sufficient resources of the mental imaginary to which he entrusts the task of resurrecting a rhetoric vaudeville shattered, that is, the fantasy of the old Pathé films. 

With the success of these films, René Clair becomes the spokesperson for a French cinema in full identity crisis, withdrawn into a dream golden age prior to 1914. Since then, with Feyder in the United States, and Gremillon and Epstein marginalized, Clair is the only one to guarantee the continuity of a second avant-garde reconciled with realism but intent on pursuing beyond the sound the oneiric component associated with the cinematographic art of the silent. 

It gets around the obstacle of the heaviness and the necessary budget of live sound recording by using the audio track in a totally different way: the image does not coincide with the sound, the actors converse through a glass door or in the dark, the sound of a rugby match is the backdrop to the contest for a jacket. He uses music as the main theme of the story, but also creates a small world where the microcosms of the dream of his first films survive. With the association of sympathetic and anachronistic figures he cultivates the utopia of a community of comrades on the margins of history

Poetic Realism

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Bastille Day

With a team of collaborators such as George Perinal, Lazar Meerson and Maurice Jabert, he reconstructs in Epinay’s Tobys studios the quintessence of France, dominated by benevolent light and abstraction without harshness. The tone of the film Under the Roofs of Paris is clear from the beginning: with a spectacular overview that reviews all the inhabitants of a building, accompanied by a refrain that rises from the street, René Clair inaugurates few years in advance the Poetic Realism, later popularized by his assistants Marcel Carné and Lacombe, while prolonging the fiction of a still homogeneous society. 

This explains the dialogue submerged by music or visual metaphor and the formidable success of the film abroad. Then surpassed in 1931 by that of The Million, a new adaptation of a vaudeville, a chase in which René Clair replaces the text with an improvised subject modeled on poetic stanzas that are integrated into the scene. 

He transfers the formula ofinto the sound film The Italian Straw Hat and invents one comedy French music destined to remain a success with no future even in his work: Freedom for Us and The last billionaire reveal a growing gap between this operetta poem and the darkening of the social and political horizon. The irruption of machinism and totalitarianism are the subject of an anarchist game on representations. 

After this period he made his absolute masterpiece, Bastille Day. Minimalist evocation of a Paris that is a kind of Lost Paradise, in which René Clair describes with extreme rigor a world that has disappeared forever. The success of The Last Billionaire leads him to accept Alexander Korda’s invitation to work in Great Britain. There he made two enjoyable satires of the macabre Anglo-Saxon The Ghost Goes West and Break the News, in which his taste for ghost stories reappears.

René Clair in Hollywood

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And Then There Were None

But when the idea of ​​an unlikely Neorealism comes to his mind with Air pur of 1939, an attempt interrupted like 10 years before the project of An investigation is open, the war forces him to another exile in Hollywood, where it uses what will be defined by the Americans aswith remarkable effectiveness Clair’s touch. It confronts the stereotypes of US genre cinema: the comedy sentimental in The Flame of New Orleans, the fantastic fable in I married a witch and It happened tomorrow, the mystery in And Then There Were None

His style remains that of French irony but the price to pay is a strict control of his own creative independence, an increasingly deep-seated obsession with mechanics, creative process planning and script. The French films post-war fascinate above all for the meticulous quality of construction: his creativity is now totally dedicated to varying the issues addressed in the past by perfecting his own style. 

The fidelity of the artisans of primitive cinema as in Silence is golden, The Faustian ghost as a frustrated metaphor of cinema in The beauty of the devil, in which he evokes the dangers of nuclear power. The ascent in time and the stereotypes of the unconscious in Night Beauties, the back story prior to the war in 1914 in The Grand Maneuver

While reconstituting a troupe of actors with whom there is a certain complicity such as Gerard Philippe, René Clair seems to want to return to the field of quality cinema dominated by 1900 nostalgia and soon the object of denigration by younger colleagues. Cruel paradox because Clair is the first full-fledged author of French cinema capable of imposing the command of a single individual in all creative phases. 

But this being a total author is not manifested so much in the enhancement of the direction or in the direction of the actors, but in the scrupulous preparation of the screenplay that allows him to protect himself from the unknowns of editing. It often happens that after the war René Clair entrusts the production of a sequence to the assistant director. 

His authorship merges with a very literary idea of ​​cinematographic practice, conceived more and more as a necessary step to embody with the actors and the real world an ever elusive dream, that of a film. the fact that he is the first filmmaker elected to the French Academy, as well as the return to the works as a man of letters with theatrical adaptations, collections of short stories, evocations of his own career in a text entitled The cinema of yesterday, the cinema of today, trace a deep gap with the new generations. 

It is the coherence of a too idealistic vision of the film art that history and real facts will completely reject. Instead, it states a cinema encoded by genres and a standardized language, where due to advertising and business needs, it is no longer possible to distinguish between arthouse and commercial films. 

The Films of René Clair

Entr’acte (1924)

Entr’acte is a 1924 French silent short film directed by René Clair, shot in only two days. The film is considered a classic of Dadaist cinema and one of the most significant works of the French avant-garde.

The film is divided into two parts. The first part is a sequence of surreal and bizarre images, including a man walking on the rooftops of Paris, a group of dolls with balloon heads that inflate and deflate, and a dancer dancing on glass seen from below.

The second part is a parody of a ballet, with a hunter shooting a bird, a magician making an elephant disappear, and a dancer being abducted by an alien.

Entr’acte is an experimental and provocative film that challenged the conventions of cinema at the time. The film has been praised for its innovative use of images and techniques, and for its irreverent spirit.

The surreal and bizarre images of Entr’acte were inspired by the paintings of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. The parody of the ballet is a sharp criticism of conventional art.

Entr’acte is a film that has had a significant influence on subsequent cinema. The film has been admired by directors such as Luis Buñuel, Jean-Luc Godard, and Stanley Kubrick.

Paris qui dort (1925)

Paris qui dort is a 1925 French silent short film directed by René Clair. The film is set in Paris and tells the story of a city that is suddenly put to sleep by a mysterious ray.

The film begins with Albert, the night watchman of the Eiffel Tower, who wakes up to find the city completely deserted. People are frozen in their positions, like statues. Albert meets a group of people who have escaped the spell, including an airplane pilot, a young woman, and a wealthy gentleman. Together, they try to find out who or what caused this phenomenon.

Paris qui dort is an experimental and innovative film. Clair uses a number of innovative techniques, including parallel editing, fixed shots, and distorted perspective, to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere. The film is also a sharp criticism of modern society, which is represented as a place of alienation and loneliness.

La Tour (1928)

La Tour is a 1928 French silent short documentary film directed by René Clair. The film is about the Eiffel Tower, one of the most iconic symbols of Paris.

The film begins with a panoramic view of the Eiffel Tower, which is then explored from a variety of angles and perspectives. The film focuses on the architectural details of the tower, such as its iron beams, its stairs, and its walkways.

La Tour is a poetic and contemplative film that celebrates the beauty and engineering of the Eiffel Tower. The film is also a tribute to Paris, a city that has long been associated with the tower.

The film was shot in a single day and had a budget of just 10,000 francs. La Tour was a commercial and critical success, and it helped to solidify Clair’s reputation as one of the most important directors of French silent cinema.

Le Fantôme du Moulin-Rouge (1925)

The Phantom of the Moulin Rouge is a 1925 French silent film directed by René Clair. The film is set in Paris and tells the story of Julien Boissel, a deputy who, convinced that his fiancée no longer loves him, goes to the Moulin Rouge to drown his sorrows in alcohol. There he is approached by a mysterious doctor who claims he can help him by freeing his soul from his body.

Julien accepts the offer and goes to the isolated estate of the mysterious Dr. Renault, whose strange hypnosis experiments release Julien’s soul from his body.

Made incorporeal and invisible, Julien goes around Paris playing pranks on the frightened inhabitants. During his escapades, he discovers that his fiancée still loves him, but that her father, under blackmail, is forced to marry her off to a wealthy unscrupulous publisher.

The film is a typical example of French silent cinema of the 1920s. Clair uses a number of innovative techniques, including parallel editing, fixed shots, and distorted perspective, to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.

Le Voyage imaginaire (1926)

Le Voyage imaginaire (1926) is a 1926 French silent fantasy musical film directed by René Clair. The film tells the story of a young bank clerk who falls asleep and dreams of traveling to a fantasy world.

The film begins with Jean, a young bank clerk, who is in love with Lucie, a pretty typist. However, Jean’s colleagues, Albert and Auguste, are also interested in Lucie. One day, Jean falls asleep at his desk and begins to dream.

In his dream, Jean meets a fairy who takes him to a fantasy world. The world is full of magical creatures, such as gnomes, elves, and dragons. Jean experiences a series of adventures, including meeting a pirate, escaping from a dragon, and dancing with a princess.

At the end of the dream, Jean wakes up and discovers that the fantasy world was just a dream. However, his dream has taught him that love is the most important thing in life.

La Proie du vent (1927)

The Prey of the Wind (La Proie du vent) (1927) is a 1927 French silent romantic drama film directed by René Clair. The film is set in a foreign country in revolt.

The story follows Pierre Vignal, a French aeronautical engineer, who travels to the foreign country to explore new routes for the airline he works for. There, he falls in love with Hélène, a young woman who is involved in the revolt.

Pierre and Hélène marry in secret, but their love is hindered by Countess Elisabeth, Hélène’s mother, who is an ally of the oppressive government. The Countess has Pierre arrested, and Hélène is forced to flee.

Pierre escapes from prison and joins the rebels. Hélène, meanwhile, is captured by the Countess and taken to the family castle.

Un chapeau de paille d’Italie (1928)

Un chapeau de paille d’Italie (1928) is a 1928 French silent comedy film directed by René Clair. The film is based on the 1851 play of the same name by Eugène Labiche and Marc-Michel.

The story follows Fadinard, a young man who is about to get married. On the way to the wedding ceremony, Fadinard’s horse eats a woman’s straw hat. The woman, Anaïs, is married and cannot go home without her hat, so she demands that Fadinard find her a replacement.

Fadinard spends the rest of the film searching for a new hat, while trying to keep his wedding ceremony on schedule. Along the way, he encounters a variety of eccentric characters, including a mad hat maker, a jealous husband, and a group of singing and dancing firemen.

Un chapeau de paille d’Italie (1928) is a classic example of French silent cinema. The film is known for its fast-paced action, its slapstick humor, and its innovative use of cinematography.

Les Deux Timides (1928)

The Two Timid Souls (Les Deux Timides) (1928) is a 1928 French silent romantic comedy film directed by René Clair. The film is based on the 1860 play of the same name by Eugène Labiche and Marc-Michel.

The film follows Jules Frémissin, a young lawyer who is terrified of public speaking. His shyness costs him his first case in court, and forces him to retire to his country estate. hide_image

Impossibile trovare l’immagine. Scusa, Bard è ancora un servizio sperimentale.

One day, Jules meets Cécile, the daughter of a local landowner. Cécile is also shy, and the two fall in love at first sight. However, their shyness prevents them from expressing their feelings for each other.

Meanwhile, Mr. Garadoux, an arrogant and overbearing man, tries to win Cécile over. Garadoux is a confident man, and his confidence attracts Cécile.

Jules and Cécile find themselves competing for Cécile’s affection. However, their shyness makes them both unable to win her hand.

Sotto i tetti di Parigi (Sous les toits de Paris) (1930)

Sous les toits de Paris (1930) is a 1930 French musical film directed by René Clair. The film is a love story set in the working-class neighborhood of Belleville in Paris.

The story follows Albert Préjean, a young man who falls in love with Pola Illéry, a beautiful young woman who lives in the same building. Albert and Pola’s love is threatened by the arrival of Gaston Modot, a wealthy man who is also attracted to Pola.

Albert and Pola must overcome a number of obstacles to be together, including poverty, unemployment, and the jealousy of Gaston Modot. However, their love for each other is strong, and they eventually find a way to be happy together.

Sous les toits de Paris is a landmark film in the history of cinema. It was the first French film to use synchronized sound, and it is considered to be one of the greatest musicals of all time. The film is also known for its realistic portrayal of working-class life in Paris in the 1930s.

Le Million (1931)

The Million (1931) is a 1931 French silent musical comedy film directed by René Clair. The film is about a penniless artist who finds a winning lottery ticket.

The story follows Michel, a young artist who lives in an apartment in Paris with Prosper, another artist. Michel is in love with Béatrice, a ballerina, but he is too shy to declare his love.

One day, Michel finds a winning lottery ticket worth one million francs. Michel is ecstatic, but he soon discovers that the ticket has been stolen.

Michel embarks on a frantic search for the ticket, while trying to maintain his relationship with Béatrice. Along the way, he meets a series of eccentric characters, including a junk dealer, a milkmaid, and a butcher.

The Million is a classic example of French silent cinema. The film is known for its fast-paced action, its slapstick humor, and its innovative use of cinematography.

À nous la liberté (1931)

Freedom for Us (À nous la liberté) (1931) is a 1931 French silent satirical comedy film directed by René Clair. The film tells the story of two friends, Emile and Louis, who escape from prison to live a free and uncompromised life.

The story follows Emile and Louis, two friends who work in a toy factory. The two are dissatisfied with their lives and dream of being free.

One day, Emile and Louis decide to escape from prison. The two hide in a toy cart and manage to escape.

Emile and Louis find themselves in a new world, where they can finally be free to be themselves. The two join a band of vagabonds and live an adventurous life.

However, freedom is not always easy. Emile and Louis face a number of challenges, including hunger, poverty, and the police.

In the end, Emile and Louis find a way to be free and happy. The two marry and open their own toy factory, where they can finally work freely.

Freedom for Us is a classic example of French silent cinema. The film is known for its social satire, slapstick humor, and innovative use of cinematography.

Quatorze Juillet (1933)

Paris 14th July (Quatorze Juillet) (1933) is a 1933 French musical comedy film directed by René Clair. The film tells the story of two young lovers, Anna and Jean, who lose sight of each other during the Bastille Day ball in Paris.

The story follows Anna, a flower seller, and Jean, a taxi driver. The two meet at the Bastille Day ball and fall in love at first sight. However, they lose sight of each other in the chaos of the ball.

Anna and Jean try to find each other, but they are thwarted by a series of events, including poverty, unemployment, and jealousy.

In the end, Anna and Jean find a way to be together. The two get married and live happily ever after.

Paris 14th July is a classic of French cinema. The film is known for its music, choreography, and innovative use of cinematography.

Le Dernier Milliardaire (1934)

The Last Billionaire (Le Dernier Milliardaire) (1934) is a 1934 French film directed by René Clair. The film tells the story of a wealthy banker who loses all of his money during the Great Depression.

The story follows Banco, a billionaire banker who lives in a large villa. Banco is an egoistic and arrogant man who does not care about the needs of others.

One day, the Great Depression hits the world and Banco loses all of his money. Banco is forced to leave his villa and live on the streets.

On the streets, Banco meets a series of eccentric characters who teach him to be kinder and more compassionate.

In the end, Banco finds a new job and a new love. Banco has learned his lesson and found happiness.

The Last Billionaire is a classic example of French cinema of the 1930s. The film is known for its social satire, slapstick humor, and innovative use of cinematography.

The Ghost Goes West (1935)

The Ghost Goes West (1935) is a British comedy film directed by René Clair. The film tells the story of a Scottish ghost who is transported to the United States along with the castle in which he lives.

The film follows Donald Glourie, a Scottish lord who lives in his castle with his ghost, Lord Kilwillie. One day, Donald is forced to sell the castle to a group of Americans who want to transport it to the United States.

The castle is dismantled and transported to the United States, where it is rebuilt in Florida. Lord Kilwillie’s ghost is transported along with the castle.

In Florida, Lord Kilwillie’s ghost meets a group of eccentric Americans, including Peggy Martin, a young heiress, and Mr. Martin, her father.

Lord Kilwillie’s ghost is initially wary of the Americans, but he eventually learns to appreciate them. Lord Kilwillie’s ghost helps Peggy Martin to solve her problems and also finds love.

The Ghost Goes West is a classic film of British cinema. The film is known for its humor, social satire, and innovative use of cinematography.

Break the News (1938)

Break the News (1938) is a British musical comedy film directed by René Clair. The film stars Jack Buchanan and Maurice Chevalier as two struggling songwriters who hatch a plan to gain fame and fortune by faking a murder.

The film opens with Teddy Enton and François Verrier, two unsuccessful songwriters who are desperate to make it big. They come up with a plan to fake a murder, with Teddy pretending to be the victim and François pretending to be the murderer. They believe that the scandal will generate publicity and lead to their success.

Teddy disappears and François is arrested and put on trial for murder. However, the plan goes awry when Teddy is kidnapped by a group of criminals. François is eventually acquitted of murder, but he is still in danger from the criminals.

In the end, Teddy is rescued and the criminals are arrested. Teddy and François are both successful songwriters, and they use their fame to help others.

Break the News is a classic of British cinema. The film is known for its humor, its satire of the entertainment industry, and its innovative use of music and dance.

The Flame of New Orleans (1941)

The Flame of New Orleans (1941) is a romantic comedy film directed by René Clair and starring Marlene Dietrich, Bruce Cabot, and Roland Young. The film is set in New Orleans in 1841 and tells the story of Claire Ledeux (Dietrich), a beautiful and ambitious woman who is determined to marry a rich man.

Claire arrives in New Orleans and quickly catches the attention of two wealthy men: Charles Giraud (Young), a banker, and Robert Latour (Cabot), a riverboat captain. Claire is initially drawn to Giraud, but she is also attracted to Latour’s passion and spontaneity.

Claire decides to play the two men against each other, hoping to get the best of both worlds. However, her plan soon backfires when she accidentally leads Giraud to believe that she has been unfaithful to him.

In a fit of rage, Giraud challenges Latour to a duel. Claire realizes that she has made a mistake and tries to stop the duel, but it is too late. Latour is wounded in the duel, but he survives.

Claire realizes that she truly loves Latour, and they are eventually married.

I Married a Witch (1942)

I Married a Witch is a 1942 American supernatural romantic comedy film directed by René Clair and starring Fredric March, Susan Hayward, and Veronica Lake. The film is set in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, and tells the story of Wallace Wooley (March), a lawyer who condemns Jennifer Nolan (Lake), a witch, to death.

After 270 years, in 1942, a lightning bolt strikes the massive oak tree in which Jennifer is imprisoned, freeing her and allowing her to seek revenge on Wallace. Jennifer reincarnates as a beautiful woman and seduces Wallace, making him forget his conviction.

Wallace falls in love with Jennifer, but she is determined to make him pay for what he did. Jennifer uses her magical powers to make Wallace’s life a living hell, but she eventually realizes that she truly loves him.

In the end, Jennifer gives up her revenge and Wallace forgives her conviction. The two marry and live happily ever after.

It Happened Tomorrow (1944)

It Happened Tomorrow (1944) is a comedy film directed by René Clair and starring Dick Powell and Linda Darnell. The film is about Larry Stevens (Powell), a newspaper reporter who is given tomorrow’s newspaper today. Larry uses the information to his advantage, but he soon learns that there are consequences to knowing the future.

The film begins with Larry being fired from his job at a newspaper. Larry is on his way home when he meets Pop Benson (John Philliber), an old man who has a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper. Pop gives the newspaper to Larry and tells him to be careful with it.

Larry uses the information in the newspaper to his advantage. He bets on horse races and wins big. He also uses the information to get a new job at a better newspaper. However, Larry soon learns that knowing the future is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Larry is unable to change the future, even though he knows what is going to happen. This leads to a number of complications, including a near-death experience. Larry also learns that using the information in the newspaper to his advantage can have negative consequences for others.

And Then There Were None (1945)

And Then There Were None (1945) is a Giallo film directed by René Clair and starring Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young, Judith Anderson, June Duprez, Richard Haydn, C. Aubrey Smith, and Anthony Quayle. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie.

Plot:

Ten strangers are invited to spend time on a deserted island by a mysterious stranger. One by one, however, they pay for their supposed sins with their lives. As the circle closes, the suspense builds.

Le Silence est d’or (1947)

The Golden Silence (Le Silence est d’or) (1947) is a French romantic comedy film directed by René Clair. The film stars Maurice Chevalier and Marcelle Derrien.

Plot:

Paris, 1906. Émile Clément (Chevalier), a silent film director who is no longer young, is happy to court women, whom he can seduce thanks to a frivolous charm cultivated over the years.

One day, Émile meets the young and beautiful Yvonne (Derrien), an opera singer. Yvonne is fascinated by Émile, but she is also an intelligent and independent woman.

Émile and Yvonne begin a relationship, but Émile is soon in trouble. Yvonne is a woman who wants to be heard and understood, and Émile is not always able to meet her needs.

The Golden Silence is a romantic comedy that explores the themes of communication and understanding. The film is a celebration of love and life, and an invitation not to be afraid to express yourself.

La Beauté du diable (1950)

The Beauty of the Devil (1950) is a fantasy film directed by René Clair and starring Michel Simon, Gérard Philipe, and Nicole Besnard. It is based on the legend of Faust.

Plot:

Henri Faust, an aging professor and alchemist, is not satisfied with his life dedicated to study and scientific research. Mephistopheles offers him a pact: to sell his soul in exchange for youth and wealth.

Faust accepts and is transformed into a young man (Gérard Philipe). He begins a new life, full of pleasures and adventures. However, Faust soon realizes that happiness is not just about youth and wealth.

He begins to think back on his old life and his beloved Margaret (Nicole Besnard). In the end, Faust rejects the pact with Mephistopheles and regains his soul.

The Beauty of the Devil is a film that explores the theme of the search for happiness. The film is an invitation not to sell one’s soul for something ephemeral, but to seek happiness in simplicity and love.

Les Belles de nuit (1952)

The Beautiful Ones of the Night (1952) is a French musical comedy film directed by René Clair and starring Gérard Philipe, Martine Carol, Gina Lollobrigida, Magali Vendeuil, Marilyn Buferd, and Raymond Bussières.

Plot:

Claude is a young musician who leads a dull life. The only way to escape is to dream of adventures, especially romantic ones, that take place in other places and times.

One day, Claude meets the young and beautiful Suzanne (Martine Carol). The two fall in love and get married. However, Claude continues to dream of his nightly adventures.

One day, Claude is invited to conduct an opera at the Paris Opera. Claude is excited, but he soon realizes that reality is very different from his dreams.

The Beautiful Ones of the Night is a film that explores the theme of reality and dreams. The film is a reflection on the nature of love and the search for happiness.

Les Grandes manoeuvres (1955)

Grand Manoeuvres (Les Grandes manoeuvres) (1955) is a French romantic comedy film directed by René Clair and starring Michèle Morgan, Gérard Philipe, Jean Desailly, Pierre Dux, Brigitte Bardot, and Jacques François.

Plot:

  1. In a small provincial town in France, a young lieutenant in the dragoons, Armand de la Verne (Gérard Philipe), makes a bet with his comrades: he will seduce the first woman that chance brings him.

Fortune is on his side, and the woman he meets is Marie-Louise Rivière (Michèle Morgan), a young divorcée who has opened a fashion shop in town. Marie-Louise is an intelligent and independent woman, and she is not easily won over.

Armand begins to court her, but soon realizes that his mission will not be easy. Marie-Louise is a woman who is not impressed by appearances, and Armand must find a way to win her over for real.

Conclusion:

Grand Manoeuvres is a romantic comedy that explores the themes of love and war. The film is a reflection on the nature of love and the difficulty of finding happiness in a world where war is always looming.

Porte des Lilas (1956)

Porte des Lilas (1956) is a French drama film directed by René Clair and starring Pierre Brasseur, Henri Vidal, Dany Carrel, Georges Brassens, and Raymond Bussières.

Plot:

Juju is a drunken vagrant who lives in the outskirts of Paris, in the neighborhood of Porte des Lilas. One day, Juju meets Barbier, a bandit on the run from the police. Juju offers to hide him in his cellar, and the two become friends.

Juju begins to change his life, stops drinking, and falls in love with Maria, a girl from the neighborhood. However, Barbier is a violent and manipulative man, and soon begins to endanger the lives of Juju and Maria.

Porte des Lilas is a film that explores the theme of redemption. The film is a story of how a man, even the most desperate, can find hope and redemption.

Tout l’or du monde (1961)

Tout l’or du monde (1961) is a French comedy-drama film directed by René Clair and starring Bourvil, Alfred Adam, Philippe Noiret, Claude Rich, Colette Castel, and Annie Fratellini.

Plot:

After discovering that the village of Cabosse in Africa has the longest-living population in the world, a French businessman named Victor Hardy decides to buy the village and sell the water from its miraculous spring.

Hardy travels to Cabosse and meets the villagers, who are a simple and peaceful people. He offers to buy the village for a large sum of money, but the villagers are not interested. They tell Hardy that they are happy with their simple lives and do not need his money.

Hardy is initially disappointed, but he soon begins to understand the villagers’ way of life. He realizes that happiness is not found in money or material possessions, but in simple pleasures and inner peace.

In the end, Hardy decides to leave Cabosse and let the villagers live their lives in peace. He has learned that happiness is not something that can be bought or sold, but something that must be found within.

Les Fêtes galantes (1965)

Les Fêtes galantes (1965) is a French musical comedy film directed by René Clair and starring Jean-Pierre Cassel, Philippe Avron, Marie Dubois, and Geneviève Casile.

Plot:

In the 18th century, a soldier named Jolicoeur is tasked with conquering a fortress. However, his main interest is in women.

Jolicoeur meets Susanna, a young woman who lives in the fortress. The two fall in love, and Jolicoeur decides to abandon his mission to be with her.

Conclusion:

Les Fêtes galantes is a film that explores the themes of love and war. The film is a reflection on the nature of love and the difficulty of finding happiness in a world where war is always looming.

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