La Bête Humaine (1938)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama


La Bête Humaine (1938) Poster

In this classic adaptation of Emile Zola's novel, a tortured train engineer falls in love with a troubled married woman who has helped her husband commit a murder.


7.6/10
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Cast & Crew

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Director:

Jean Renoir

Writers:

Émile Zola (novel), Jean Renoir (screenplay)

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29 March 2016 | gavin6942
7
| A Pre-Noir Film?
In this classic adaptation of Emile Zola's novel, a tortured train engineer (Jean Gabin) falls in love with a troubled married woman (Simone Simon) who has helped her husband commit a murder.

Renoir confessed that at the time when he wrote the screenplay, he had not read Zola's novel in over 25 years: "While I was shooting, I kept modifying the scenario, bringing it closer to Zola ... the dialogue which I gave Simone Simon is almost entirely copied from Zola's text. Since I was working at top speed, I'd re-read a few pages of Zola every night, to make sure I wasn't overlooking anything." Now, I never read the novel at all, and I suspect most who have seen the film have not either. Perhaps this could be a strike against it, but it seems to me that the more obscure the novel, the more liberty you can take. Zola may not be "obscure", but certainly not the big name he once was.

The fact this is considered a precursor to film noir make it all the more interesting. Indeed, it has all the grit of a noir, and the murder aspects make it appropriate to be put in the genre. I suppose it could be called this... now I am curious what other films are considered precursors and at what point the genre came into its own.

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