17 June 2010 | Bunuel1976
THE HORSE OF PRIDE (Claude Chabrol, 1980) **
Though I watched this in French, without the benefit of subtitles even in that language, I have to say that it emerges as the least Chabrol ever! While occasionally changing tack completely from the thrillers he was best-known (and admired) for, this pastoral drama in a period setting was as far removed from his 'comfort zone' as could be imagined.
Consequently, it is hard to fathom what the director thought he was doing here or intended in the first place – given that the end result is plot less, excruciatingly dull and comes with an obscure title to boot! Maybe Chabrol was after some prestigious award, which were not so freely handed out to the essentially commercial fare he usually dabbled in.
Anyway, what we get is an irrefutably meticulous and reasonably affectionate recreation of a particular past era – Brittany at the time of WWI – but, in spite of its (expected) appealing photography, at almost two hours, the documentary approach is positively deadening. The simple events in the daily life of the inhabitants hardly elicit a response from the viewer, other than as a waste of time alas. Frankly, the image that has stuck with me a week after viewing this is the fact that, for no discernible reason, the peasants involved sleep in hanging cupboards!