Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Manon (1949)

Manon was not as I had expected. After Le corbeau, L'assassin habite au 21, and Quai des Orfèvres; I waited for a crime/detective movie. Manon is a drama instead, a tragic story of 2 lovers, Robert Dégrieux (Michel Auclair) and Manon Lescaut (Cécile Aubry).

Robert, a member of Resistance, helps Manon when the other women want to shave her head as a punishment, being accused as a Nazi collaborator. They become lovers. Robert wants to join his parents in the country to save money, but Manon is a city girl, so they join her brother Leon (Serge Reggiani) in Paris. To earn their living, Robert does illegal activities. Manon wishes to marry Paul, a rich American, and asks Leon to keep Robert away from her, which culminates in the murder of Leon by Robert. Robert flees to Marseilles, but Manon joins him. Both are found in a ship to Alexandria as stowaways. They then join the Jews who are heading to Palestine, to start a new life.

Compared with the 3 movies of H.G. Clouzot I have seen, the plot in Manon is the one I less like, and actually I found the main lead actor unconvincing (or perhaps I was tired.). However, from the artistic point of view, this is an excellent movie which has many beautiful images. I can understand why it won The Golden Lion in the Venice Film Festival. The one I most like is a upside-down image (because its Robert & Manon's reflection on the spring) when they both are holding hands in the oasis. The ending scene is also very beautiful: Manon's dead body hanging from Robert's back and her breast peeks from her torn clothes.

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