Week 9/2023

When De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen [The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short] was released in 1965, André Delvaux's debut was instantly written off by Belgian critics. Luckily, it was well received abroad, particularly in France, where respected filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais praised the film for its inventive articulation of time and memory. This short detour abroad eventually convinced Delvaux's compatriots to reconsider their rash opinion. In their defense, it takes some attention for the film's genius to strike the eye. In De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen, Delvaux's magic realist style is at its subtlest. The interaction between image and sound generates an uncanny atmosphere that implies rather than expresses. In the restoration by CINEMATEK, this suggestive exploration of the border between reality and imagination comes to its own.

Jean Renoir's La règle du jeu [The Rules of the Game] also needed some time before it was recognized as a masterpiece. At its original release in 1939, it was widely criticized for being "incomprehensible" and most of all "unpatriotic". It took two decades and thorough re-editing for it to be regarded not only as Renoir's best film, but also one of the best films of all time. After it's rediscovery, Claude Chabrol, Louis Malle and Alain Resnais praised the film's complex social criticism and recognized its influence in their own work. Renoir's satirical depiction of the European class system testifies to a deep understanding of the artificial conventions and protocols that govern social relations and thereby constitute "the rules of the game".

Written on the Wind (1956) provides a welcome burst of color in this largely black and white selection. By reflecting the emotional malaise of the protagonists, Douglas Sirk's unconventional use of glossy technicolor forms a constitutive element of the film's meaning. Style and content become closely intertwined in what Sirk himself has called "a film about failure". To ensure that the restoration came as close as possible to Sirk's distinctive color palette, Criterion hired the color grader of Todd Haynes, arguably the most Sirkian of all directors.

This Week