DOCTEUR FRANÇOISE GAILLAND (Jean-Louis Bertucelli, 1975)

Jean-Louis Bertucelli’s Docteur Françoise Gailland, a “true story,” is about a French physician who is so busy that the film was called No Time for Breakfast in the States. This makes the film sound like a comedy—which until the Big “C” strikes it more or less is. But this is no piece of Hollywood trash, […]

BLOOD OF THE BEASTS (Georges Franju, 1949)

Along with Henri Langlois, Georges Franju in 1936 founded the world’s most celebrated film archive, La Cinémathèque française. (Two years earlier they had co-directed a 16mm short, Le Métro.) After the war, Franju went solo, launching his career with the short documentary Le sang des bêtes, which surveys, in graphic detail, the routine inside a […]

HOTEL DES INVALIDES (Georges Franju, 1951)

War’s hype and the legendary status that the state officially confers on warriors versus war’s killing and maiming reality: Georges Franju’s 23-minute Hôtel des Invalides assaults France’s military mystique.      It is a subversive documentary, commissioned by the French government as a national self-advertisement; but Franju’s cunning handling of the material created a powerful antiwar film, […]

THERESE DESQUEYROUX (Georges Franju, 1962)

Updating François Mauriac’s 1927 novel, Georges Franju’s Thérèse Desqueyroux shifts its sphere of thematic reference from sin and expiation to a woman’s interiority, from Roman Catholicism to a fusion of the existential and the lyrical.      Accompanied by her solemn voiceover, Thérèse Desqueyroux’s flashbacks account for much of the film. Thérèse is acquitted of her real […]