- SKU: 9021907
- Release Date: 07/17/2007
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Les Croix de Bois (Wooden Crosses) may well be the most powerful anti-war film ever made; certainly it is the grimmest and most uncompromising. Starting with an impressionistic shot of a gloomy hillside studded with white grave markings, the film delineates the hopelessness and horror of war in such explicit terms that at times it's nearly impossible to watch. Set during WWI, the story concentrates on a handful of French draftees, including an idealistic student named Demachy (Pierre Blanchard). Marching off to war with joyful patriotic fervor, the men are quickly disillusioned by the appalling realities of total warfare. When they aren't enduring ten nonstop days of enemy bombardment, the soldiers must sweat out the horrible realization that their trenches are being mined from underground. Nor are they given any relief during those rare lulls in fighting. At one point, the men are yanked away from a much-needed furlough to march in a victory parade for the entertainment of their callous, fat-cat superior officers. One by one, the men are killed off, until only Demachy remains -- but, tragically, not for long. Such was the impact of Les Croix de Bois, that, when it was shown on French television in the 1970s, a WWI survivor who watched the film for the first time was so overwhelmed by despair that he committed suicide. Generous portions of the film's battle sequences were later incorporated in the 1934 John Ford film The World Moves On and the 1936 Howard Hawks production The Road to Glory. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Les Miserables is perhaps the most frequently filmed novel in screen history. This 1933 French version of the Victor Hugo classic is the most epic in proportion, though the human elements of the story are kept in sharp focus by director Raymond Bernard and star Harry Baur. Baur plays Jean Valjean, an essentially decent man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread and transformed into a dehumanized outlaw. His faith in humanity restored by the kindliness of a bishop (Henry Krauss), Valjean goes to a small village to start life anew, but is pursued throughout his life for breaking parole by relentless police officer Javert (Charles Vanel). The various stages of Valjean's life--from convict to businessman to elderly martyr--were bounded by the film's original three-part structure. Part one, Tempete sous un Crane, ran two hours; part two, Les Thenardiers, was 90 minutes; and part three, Liberte, Liberté Cherie clocked in at 95. The American version of Les Miserables was spliced down to 165 minutes, with all three parts combined into one, then was withdrawn to avoid competition with 20th Century Pictures' 1935 Les Miserables. Years later, director Bernard himself pared down his film to two parts: Jean Valjean (109 minutes), and Cosette (100 minutes, with Josseline Gael in the title role). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Cast & Crew
- Pierre Blanchar - Gilbert Demachy
- Gabriel Gabrio - Sulphart
- Raymond Aimos - Fouillard
- Antonin Artaud - Vieuble
- Charles Vanel - Caporal Breval