25 October 2004 | dbdumonteil
Free as a butterfly.
The hero releases the butterflies captive in a jar,and when he writes his farewell letter,he's in front of a collection of these lepidoptera.
This can summarize the movie quite well.The hero ,although a valuable property's heir was born to start out and to lead a wanderer's life.For him,what the others would call "happiness" -that is to say money,a wife -is an imitation of life ,something unbearable.This silent movie is full of contrasts:the flat land near the Briare canal and the mountains which imprison the hero (as the servant says while searching his master:in the mountains,we can have landmarks;the gypsy girl Zita and the straight landlord's daughter ;the popular dance (accordion music ,what the French call "musette") and the chic ball in the casino.It's not a pure coincidence that the hero calls himself "Maldone".It's a homonym of the word "maldonne" which means "misdeal".
The movie was restored by the cinematheque française with good results for the pictures are splendid.The ball scenes are masterfully filmed and predates the extraordinary finale of "pattes blanches" which Gremillon will direct twenty years later.Main character is played by Charles Dullin ,who was essentially a stage actor(famous for his parts in Moliere comedies:"L'avare" and "Tartuffe").Annabella ,who plays his wife -and who was once Tyrone Power's wife- ,is nothing more than a walk on here.