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LE JOLI MAI (1963) - Slices of French Cinema

  • year. 1963
  • country. FRANCE
  • run-time. 145min
  • rating. N/A
  • distributor. SOFRACIMA

£5.00 (£3.50 conc.)

Doors 7.00PM - Film 8.00PM

Courtesy of the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni

A marvelous, highly influential cinéma-vérité examination of a specific time and place: Paris in May 1962, going through its first spring of peace since 1939 (the signing of the Evian agreement in March 1962 having finally put an end to the long-running Algerian troubles). 

It is this apparent new time of peace that makes that May so “lovely”, as superimposed text states with conspicuous sarcasm: “The scene is set in May 1962, considered by some at the time as the ‘first spring of peace’”. Marker and Lhomme didn’t think so. Their film places great emphasis on the political unrest of the time.

The basic method is simple: Marker and his colleagues (unseen) elicit comments on work, money, happiness, etc, from a cross-section of Parisians. But these personal thoughts are firmly and evocatively placed within the wider sociopolitical context, as the film proceeds to show footage of police charges, rioters, strikers, and so forth. 

What distinguishes the film most, however, is its wit, both verbal and visual, so that it is simultaneously illuminating and funny.

A far-reaching meditation on the relationship between individual and society.
— Film Comment