Maldone (Jean Grémillon, 1928)

“Maldone (1927) is not only a first feature that revealed a young provincial man who was talented and cultivated, musical and enthusiastic for seeking out the Parisian avant-garde milieu but who nonetheless kept deep roots in nature through heredity. The dual personality of its hero – smitten with adventure amidst the dull calm of everyday life (he does not resolve his conflict by shooting the “other” in a mirror, like in The Student of Prague) – is a kind of commentary on the dual path where the young cinema is searching for itself: stylistic adventure and attention to the simple truth of things. Just as the Jean Epstein of Finis Terrae also directed The Fall of the House of Usher, Grémillon in Maldone shows both his expressive capacities (the frenetic whirlwind of the ball, the unusual angles, the subjective representation of the horse’s fall) but also his sensitivity to the meanings of the landscape (the whiteness of a towpath under a stormy sky, quivering leaves, light reflecting in the water of a canal) and his sense of everyday beauty: the scene of the thresher with the cloud of wheat dancing in the sun in the movement of the belts is reprised to the letter in June 6th at Dawn.” Mireille Latil Le Dantec, issue 40 of Cinématographe, September 1978, translated by Ted Fendt (


“Der erste Langfilm von Grémillon, einem würdigen Rivalen von Renoir im Wettstreit um den Ruf als wichtigster Regisseur des französischen Vorkriegskinos, der aber wegen seiner Unklassifizierbarkeit noch immer schmählich vernachlässigt wird. Maldone erzählt die Geschichte eines Freigeists, der sich leidenschaftlich zu einer Zigeunerin hingezogen fühlt. Als er nach dem Tod seines reichen Bruders dessen Erbe antritt, erweisen sich die Zwänge des „respektablen“ Lebens als zerstörerisch. Grémillon gestaltet den Film als Pastorale lyrischer Licht-Schatten-Muster. Das unerhörte musikalische Gespür und die physische Detailkraft seiner Arrangements kulminieren in einem unglaublichen Tanz-Bacchanal, das nahezu kubistisch anmutet.” (Christoph Huber, Austrian Film Museum programme, November 2005)





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