Thursday 22 March 2018

CINEMA REBORN - "the best film ever made" THE CRIME OF M. LANGE (Jean Renoir, France, 1936)

Bologna's finest: Cinema Arlecchino interior
If there is any single film that might be called the impetus for CINEMA REBORN, it’s Jean Renoir’s The Crime of M. Lange.  Walking down Bologna’s  Via delle Lame last year with my friend Tony Rayns we fell into step with a young Australian academic also heading for the Cinema Arlecchino for a screening of Renoir’s film. “Seen this film?” we asked the young man. “No”. “Well, well. Never seen Le Crime de M. Lange. This is going to be one of the great moments of your life as a cinephile” said Rayns. And indeed it should have been.

Jean Renoir
So there we were in a packed house in the Arlecchino where, for the first time in half a century or more, the film screened as Renoir, his photographer Jean Bachelet and composers Joseph Kosma and Jean Wiener would have wanted it to be seen and heard. The images from the battered, grey and muffled 16mm prints that had lodged in the memory were swept away as a copy was projected that restored all of the film’s luminous black and white.

The young man from StudioCanal who introduced the film said it was the most difficult 4K restoration that the company had ever undertaken. The material which they had to use was very poor. We all knew it. We’d seen it, including on the copy David Stratton screened on SBS in the 90s.

There are films which cause me to tear up a little from the start. The memory of previous viewings kicks in so strongly that you are hurled back into the experience of viewing even before it has hardly begun to weave its magic. (I have to confess that Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg does it for me time and again. It even happened last week when I chanced to see one of the more emotional scenes in Parapluies when David Stratton was running through excepts from some French films from 1964.)

René Lefèvre, Odette Florelle, Le Crime de M. Lange
M. Lange is in that category. Not exactly acute critical assessment but there you are.

There are some more detailed notes on the film here on the Cinema Reborn website. What I don’t say there is that yes, if I were asked, I would nominate this not merely in my top ten but in fact I think I would class it as the best film ever made.

So…There had to be a way of bringing it home…and here we are…

Screens at CINEMA REBORN on Sunday 6 May at 5.15 pm with an introduction (gulp) by moi. 

Subscription tickets to CINEMA REBORN are now on sale. Subscriptions are $85 which admits to all films in the program.  To purchase subscriptions and to make donations to support future CINEMA REBORN activity you should click on this link 

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