L’insoumis (Alain Cavalier, France, 1964)

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Alain Delon loves dancing, dogs, children, life. But he’s killed a man and fallen in love with a woman. He’s been wounded in the stomach but it’s the wound in his heart that’s killing him. Will he make it home from the mess in Algeria to see his child?

Black and white gorgeousness by Alain Cavalier and with Delon and Messari, based on a true story about the kidnapping of lawyer Dominique Servet, who subsequently sued the producers (which included Delon, producing for the first time) and won. The film was re-distributed in cinemas minus twenty-five minutes of footage the court ordered removed. It didn’t make sense.

Now it does and can finally be seen as Alain Cavalier originally intended: as a film about the consequences of a war that dared not name itself as such/ ‘montrer les conséquences d’une querre qui ne veut pas dire son nom’ and film with a protagonist, ‘a hired hand, a mercenary, a man who believes we do things only because it’s our job and discovers that that’s not what it’s about / C’es un homme de main, un nercenaire, un homme qui croit qu’on fait les choses simplement par métier et qui découvre qui’l ne s’agit pas de ça . L’Insoumis is at least as good as his wonderful Le combat dans l’île (1), which I’ve written on at length here.

Seeing L’Insoumis and other French films of the period in Bologna made me realise that there’s at least a book yet to be written on French Cinema, one on non-nouvelle vague cinema during the nouvelle vague era, that could highlight some of these achievements and bring them out of the shadow of their more famous but not necessarily better contemporaries. Claude Renoir’s cinematography is a wonder.

José Arroyo

French quotes from Bernard Violet, Les mystères Delon Paris: Flammarion, 200, pp. 187 & 188

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