Le souffle au coeur (Louis Malle, 1971, 118`)
Le souffle au coeur tells a coming of age story about a 14-year-old boy growing up in bourgeois surroundings in post-World War II Dijon. The film was a hit across Europe, gaining 2.7 million admissions in France alone, and was also a modest hit in the United States. The film starts by showing the adventures of the boy in school and his first sexual experience at a brothel. When the boy is found to have a heart murmur after a bout of scarlet fever, he goes with his mother (Lea Massari) to a sanatorium, where a series of events lead to a sexual encounter with his mother. Jazz music by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, along with books by Bataille, Proust and Camus, feature prominently in the film.
Louis Malle '(1932-1995) was an award-winning French film director, screenwriter, and producer. His film, Le monde du silence, won the Palme d'Or and Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1956. He was also nominated multiple times for Academy Awards later in his career. Malle was born into a wealthy industrialist family in Thumeries, Nord, France. He initially studied political science at the Sciences-Po before turning to film studies at IDHEC instead. He worked in both French cinema and Hollywood, and he produced both French and English language films.
His feature films were: Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (1958), Les Amants (1958), Zazie dans le métro (1960), Vie privée (1962), Le feu follet (1963), Viva Maria! (1965), Le voleur (1967), Histoires extraordinaires (1968), Le souffle au coeur (1971), Lacombe Lucien (1974), Black Moon (1975), Pretty Baby (1978), Atlantic City (1981), My Dinner with Andre (1981), Crackers (1984), Alamo Bay (1985), Au revoir, les enfants (1987), Milou en Mai (1989), Damage (1992), Vanya on 42nd Street (1994).
Malle is sometimes considered to be "nouvelle vague", though his work does not directly fit their auteurist theory and he had nothing to do with the Cahiers du Cinéma; yet, he exemplified many characteristics of the movement, including using natural light, and shooting on location. His film Zazie dans le métro, after Raymond Queneau's novel, made Truffaut write him an enthusiastic letter. Many of Malle's films also tackled taboo subjects: Les amants both adultery and nudity, Le feu follet suicide, Le souffle au coeur incest, and Lacombe Lucien collaboration with the Nazis in Vichy France during WWII.
In the case of Le souffle au coeur, apart from Malle's ease and elegance in dealing with censor-prone subjects, Lea Massari (the young woman Anna going missing in Antonioni's L'avventura) and pre-modern urban destruction Dijon are the true stars of the film: Mlle Massari by her warm personality and brilliant dynamics, the city of Dijon by its noble statics.
112us - Le souffle au coeur (Louis Malle, 1971, 118`) - 21/7/2012