11 March 2007 | dbdumonteil
And when the night is cloudy....
Gabin won the Volpi Cup at the Venice film festival and he thoroughly deserved it."La Nuit est mon Royaume",in spite of occasional snatches of melodrama,is a strong film about blind people .
The title tells the whole story:the night is my kingdom (and not my hell).In the film,all the blind people lead a normal life,they work,they love,they suffer ,but above all,they do not want any pity.
That was Raymond's family's first mistake:after an accident which made him a blind man,the hero is treated like a child ."He's going to break my glasses!" mama says "You should eat more .Do you want me to cut your meat?".But fortunately ,a nun comes to his rescue.She works in a center where blind people learn to read with the Braille alphabet,but,as the sister tells Raymond,they learn any job they like: cabinet-makers,mechanics,cooks,etc .She will play for Raymond the role Annie Sullivan played for Helen Keller.
And there's another light that shines on Raymond :in the center,there's a blind schoolteacher he falls in love with.But she's the head's fiancée.This rivalry is perhaps the weakness of the film ,but it does produce a marvelous scene: Raymond and the girl are walking though the wood and he confides in her;the jealous suitor is here but of course they cannot see him.
Georges Lacombe was a talented director with a good sense of mystery (which surfaces in this film).He made the best of a good cast:Gabin,Simone Valère,Suzanne Dehelly,Gérard Oury -yes the director who hit the big time with his Bourvil/De Funès comedies-.His movie displayed humanism,close to that of Christian-Jaque and Jean-Paul Le Chanois :a splendid sequence shows a choir of blind people singing "Ce N'Est Qu'un Au Revoir " (="Should auld acquaintance be forgot?).
Charles Spaak 's dialog ,by and large,rings true.Like his colleague Henri Jeanson,he laughed at the Legion d'Honneur .After his pompous speech about Raymond's courage,the minister is in a hurry to leave,much to the hero's brother-in-law's disappointment ,he who was counting on him to get a promotion in his bank.