9 July 2020 | EdgarST
Visionary first work
Remarkable first film by Robert Bresson, which contains a funny but cynical view of world politics. Born in 1901, Bresson was old enough by 1918 to witness the effects of I World War and probably he was more than aware of what was to come to European states (monarchies and republics) in the years after 1934.
«Affaires publiques» is often compared to Vigo's «Zéro de conduite», made a year earlier (and by the influence of this film, the connection goes as far as 1968, to Anderson's «if....»). However, it seems to me the similitude has more to do with visual likeness in the way the authorities behave and the clothes they wear, than with their subjects. They both deal with authority, but education is different from politics. As a matter of fact, the philosophies, laws and budgets of education are, in the end, determined by economic and political powers.
"Affaires publiques" deals with heads of States and the military (and with firemen, for comic effect), with liaisons between the Republic of Crogandie and the Kingdom of Miremie, lands on the verge of war, while on the surface frivolity and a mating game disguise the real situations of the people, who in the end lead everything to revolt.
Bresson anticipates the situation in Renoir's "La règle du jeu" (1939), a more private than public affair, but the inner conflict is quite similar. However, the movie that came to my mind on the two occasions that I watched Bresson's film is Leo McCarey's & The Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup", also made in 1933 as Vigo's movie. I definitely do not believe that Robert Bresson was under the influence or imitating Vigo or "Duck Soup". He would eventually prove to be a major artist of the film medium, who made quite original movies. What all the coincidences make me think is that very talented artists in the film industries of several countries had similar thoughts about world affairs by the early 1930s... that would lead to II World War.
It is a pity that I could not see a better copy (I really do not know if a good copy has survived), but after a second view and thought I think this is a great, dark, tragic comedy, that precedes the spirit of the theatre of the absurd.