5 September 2007 | dbdumonteil
The talented Mister Pascal.
Marcel Lherbier,like his colleague Abel Gance ,made his most celebrated and acclaimed films in the silent era.Among all his talkies,only " La Nuit Fantastique" can be really looked upon as a classic.
"Feu Mathias Pascal " is a curious film ,depicting a character whose only wish in life is freedom.
First part depicts his family life ,with his sweet mother,his wife whose love will not last long and his mother-in-law,a shrew.It contains great scenes such as the depiction of the old library where rats come to nibble at the books.Although it's a PIrandello-inspired story,the scene when Mathias puts his dead baby into her dead mom's hands is Dickensian:it recalls this end of chapter when David Copperfield says farewell to her mother Clara Murstone they lay in her grave with his half brother in her arms.
The weak part of the story is the short transitions between the two parts which takes place in the casinos of Monte Carlo,a place best depicted in Erich Von Stroheim's "Foolish wives" (1921).
The second part could be subtitled "the liberty years" :On his way home,Mathias reads the newspapers and discovers that"his dead body was found" .So he come back to Rome,where he has not got an identity anymore .This second segment often verges on fantasy and horror with a séance in the dark,and the "ghost" who scares the hero's in-law. The ending when the hero visits his grave is the definitive step to freedom.The last picture is Chaplinesque.
Michel Simon makes two appearances as the hero's good friend who marries his wife when they all believe he is dead.