20 October 2021

Gérard Blain's Un enfant dans la foule | A Child in the Crowd (1976)

Gérard Blain is perhaps better known as a actor than a director, appearing in early films such as Truffaut's Les Mistons (1957) and Chabrol's Le Beau Serge in particular, but this autobiographical work of his is all his own. Although a comparison could be made between Truffaut's films culled from his own life, this shows more the influence of Bressonian austerity, also using non-actors. Blain had an unhappy, lonely childhood and sought the company of a number of other people, seen here mainly (but not exclusively) as older men: of course, as Philippe is played by a pre-adolescent and a thirteen-year-old, any vaguely sexual element (the gift of a tie passed around his neck, for instance) being played down, implied rather than explicit. What we see is a rebellious, theiving young person taking advantage of anyone he can, such as the German enemy, members of the Resistance, and Americans. But his essential care for people shows through in such actions as trying to console a tondue, a young French woman stripped naked, shaved bald and hounded down the street for having a relationship with a Nazi.

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