Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Henri Langlois - Phantom of the Cinematique

"I haven't seen that film yet, but I hope they mentioned how Langlois nearly singlehandidly save Western Civilization from the Nazi's in his bathtub"

That was the response of a friend on hearing that I had just viewed the documentary Henri Langlois - Phantom of the Cinematique. And while that statement sounds like ridiculous overstatement it's actually not far from the truth. As Langlois's woefully short Wikipedia entry states he was a pioneer of film preservation. But that really only tells a fraction of the tale.

Langlois risked his life numerous times to preserve films from the Nazi's. His passion for cinema led him to be called the Godfather of the French New Wave. His preservation of films allowed him to show films all the time at the Cinematique which was attended religiously by Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol. Put simply and bluntly, film would not be the same today were it not for the efforts and passion of Langlois.

The documentary itself is about 2 hours long, and while it may seem a bit overlong at times to those who don't have an interest in the subject, to those who do have an interest in film history, it is essential viewing. Vintage interviews with Langlois, footage of Truffaut and Godard, interviews with Chabrol. Footage of the demonstrations in the streets after Langlois was ousted from his position at the Cinematique. All of this is edited extremely well, and you can tell the documentary was a true labour of love. And really, few subjects are more deserving.

I can't speak highly enough of this viewing experience.

No comments: