Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Barrage Contre le Pacifique - 2008, 1958

I have finally got around to seeing the recent (2008) film by Rithy Panh of Marguerite Duras's semi-autobiographical novel THE SEA WALL or UN BARRAGE CONTRE LE PACIFIQUE which is a fascinating contrast to the long-unseen 1958 version [also confusingly titled THIS ANGRY AGE] by French director Rene Clement with one of the first great international casts and filmed in Thailand. I saw this as a 12 year old and that was it until I got my hands on an Italian copy last year and I liked it all over again. The brother and sister are the fascinating pair of the statuesque Silvana Mangano (Mrs De Laurentiis) and a pre-PSYCHO Tony Perkins - with Jo Van Fleet creating another great mother role as their mother trying to protect their rice plantation in Indo-China from the sea. This seems to have a '50s background - when Suzanne's admirer gives them the record player the music and dancing seem to be the rock'n' roll era. Mangano (as per my other post on it, see label) gets involved with Richard Conte while Nehemiah Persoff sweats and wants her, while Joseph (Tony) goes off to the city and gets picked up by Alida Valli in a cinema ! I don't suppose we will ever see a good English version of this again?

Now, Rithy Panh's version takes the story back to its 1930s origins, set in 1931 in French colonial Indo-China where a corrupt government and Land Registry control the plots of land and oppress the locals. Isabelle Huppert, mesmerising as usual, is the worn-down mother trying to protect her worthless land, the children are indifferent and long to get away - but here we have no Mangano or Perkins to fascinate us - the daughter (Asrid Berges-Frisbey) is a pouting bored teenager [but who now looks as good as Silvano Mangano in her prime?], while the son (Gaspard Ulliel) has the looks and build and blankness of a male model. Randal Douc impresses as the besotted admirer. Interesting views then of the same story, 50 years apart. Panh and Huppert provide interesting interviews too on what they intended to convey with the story and the politican background, which is still relevant today where the locals do not own their land and have to work for outside interests. L'AIMANT (THE LOVER) is another version of Duras's youth and erotic awakening by an Oriental, which was dismissed as soft porn at the time (1992).

More Duras: I have been meaning to re-visit her NATHALIE GRANGER with Moreau and Bose, and the oddity that is 10.30 PM SUMMER (which at least has Schneider, Finch and Mercouri) and Peter Brooks' MODERATO CANTABILE with Moreau and Belmondo, and her screenplays for MADEMOISELLE and THE SAILOR FROM GIBRALTAR (Tony Richardson's collaborations with Jeanne Moreau)... watch this space!

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