Lumière d’été Screen 8 articles

Lumière d’été

1944

Lumière d’été Poster
  • Untrapping Grémillon from between these lauded contemporaries [Renoir and Carné] is a tricky necessity; after screening Lumière D'Été, I immediately described it as "Rules of the Game fan fiction."

  • The final section opens up dramatically (and vertiginously) to an open gorge where a dam is being constructed; if the characters so far have seemed to be living above and apart from the world, they now come crashing back to earth.

  • An aristocratic past and a fairy tale mood also haunt Lumière d’été (1943), in which Grémillon richly visualizes an allegorical script by Jacques Prévert. This screenplay uses a stock premise of rivalry over an ingenuous young woman, and rather heavy-handedly contrasts a decadent upper class with honest workers. It is saved less by Prévert’s poetic dialogue than by the surreal, unearthly setting and mood of disquiet.

  • ...This juxtaposition of classes is one of the reasons Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939) seems an obvious reference point, and it’s a tribute to Grémillon’s mastery that his film never crumples in comparison with Renoir’s supreme masterpiece. Another common trait is a climactic masked ball that turns rowdy, carnivalesque, and deadly (as well as Prevertian, anticipating the final sequence of the 1945 Children of Paradise in many particulars).

  • You cannot consider Lumière d’Eté without comparing it to Renoir’s masterpiece: both films are essentially chamber pieces that use (theatrical) genres – farce and comedy of manners in the case of Renoir, melodrama in the case of Grémillon – to structure their allegorical content; and both films end in a Walpurgis night, an out-of-control carnival during which all masks fall off; a shotgun is fired in both stories and both films end with an (accidental) death.

  • Grémillon proves the necessity of cinema during the hard times, and Lumière d'été is the height of an encounter between social and political responsibilities with the brilliance of the medium. When, four decades after the war, Marcel Carné declared that "we tried to regain by Art what we had lost through Arms," his words gave a new meaning to the cinematic efforts made by a master like Grémillon.

  • It’s a perfect storm of sex and jealousy, leading to a decadent masquerade ball at Patrice’s Gothic castle and a whirlwind climax in which the privileged and spoiled get their comeuppance at a dam construction site. Grémillon handles these changes in terrain masterfully.

  • Lumière d'été shows the rhythm of Grémillon's shots, the graceful way they build on one another. Michèle approaches the hotel from the winding access road, shot from below; later, when the roaring drunk Roland rides a motorcycle to the hotel, it's shot from a long distance above, until he arrives in the courtyard and falls flat on his face. Again and again, we're shown things climbing, like the cable car that connects to the dam, and things falling, like a shower of rocks from an explosion.

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