Using amateur films shot between 1920 and 1960, Jean Baronnet takes us on a fascinating journey through the depths of France, which we see evolving in black and white (and sometimes in color) - in terms of clothing, morals, entertainment, etc. Intelligently, the director chooses chronological order as the main thread, but also frequent flashbacks, which allow us to take stock of what we have just seen, avoiding that one image chases the other.
The tone adopted is rather good-natured, a little nostalgic, gently humorous. Baronnet makes only rare allusions to the tragedies that the country went through, notably the Second World War, during which the daily life of the French was disrupted. This is simply not the object of this simple chronicle of a nation's daily life We are shown people like everyone else, with few famous figures (one exception, Saint-Exupéry who gets off his plane in 1938): there are many scenes of family life, vacations, local festivals, etc. Four decades of daily life, unchanging in its rituals but always changing, unfold before our alternately amused and moved eyes.
If I had to select one sequence from this documentary, it would be the extraordinary crossing of Paris filmed in 1924 from a car: the driving license had only existed for two years and traffic lights were not yet in use. There were few cars but that did not prevent the traffic from being totally random, with everyone doing as they pleased. Poor passers-by (there were no pedestrian crossings either) having to jump between the vehicles at their own risk!
The film. A mix of interesting information, warm nostalgia and constant smiles, is to be recommended. One is not bored for a minute.
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