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Le Quai Des Brumes


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Product Details

  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303593844
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,595 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Le Quai Des Brumes" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

On a foggy highway, a lonely soldier hitches a ride and ends up in a lonely bar on the outskirts of town, where lost souls gather for a melancholy repast. The soldier is Jean (Jean Gabin), a deserter on the run whose flight is interrupted when he meets sad runaway Nelly (Michele Morgan) and falls in love. He becomes entwined in the troubles of her life, notably the lascivious guardian (Michel Simon) who lusts after Nelly and attempts to blackmail Jean, and a cocky, hot-headed gangster (Pierre Brasseur) who tries to scare Jean off, only to be humiliated in front his men and the town. It's not hard to see where this spiral of threats and confrontations is leading (the title, after all, translates to "Port of Shadows," as ominous a title as any American film noir, especially in a small town where everyone's lives become tightly wound together. Director Marcel Carné and writer Jacques Prévert (who went on to collaborate on the French masterpiece Children of Paradise) infuse the film with a sense of dignity and quiet poetry. At night the port town is like a world in the clouds, cut off from the rest of the world, where all the sordid yearnings and desperate plans of the ambitious players take on a mythic resonance. It's only by light of day that everything returns to its shabby place. A classic of French poetic realism. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Jean Gabin is an absolute natural for a role like this.
Alex Udvary
When I first saw this movie I thought it was one of the saddest and most beautiful films I'd ever seen, which I still think today.
Fat Quinlan
The story depicts elements of human ambiguity, crime, and love, which is elevated with brilliant cinematography and direction.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 2004
Format: DVD
Jean (Jean Gabin), a deserting soldier, emerges out the darkness as an approaching truck's lights cut through the night. The truck driver offers Jean a ride which he gladly accepts as he is weary from his long journey away from his dark past in the French military, a past that Jean wants to escape as it brings him pain and anxiousness, which haunts his restless mind. Weariness and dreadful memories brings Jean into a foggy world where he drifts between sleep and awareness while the truck is traveling in the direction of the French port city of Le Havre, which is equally foggy and full of threats.

Hopeful, Jean arrives to Le Havre where he intends to find a new beginning to his life, and where he can discard his past. A port city offers several opportunities for a person such as Jean to embark on new journeys as the port is full of ships leaving each day for new destinations. Through the help of some strangers that Jean meets at a worn down tavern he begins to find a light, which could help guide him back on track to a new life. However, the fog remains as Jean's destiny has different plans for him as his good nature seems to affect the people he meets.

Port of Shadows is a poetic visualization of a realistic story, which Carne gave a magic touch to by using visual signs to enhance the cinematic experience. These signs have a symbolic value for the audience as it offers cerebral participation in the film, which can be pondered for some time. The symbolism of the fog and use of a port city has a profound effect on the films cinematic value as it may causes some cognitive dissonance as both coexist and could be associated with opposite notions. An example of this symbolic antagonism for the fog and the port is the freedom of a port and the barrier of the fog.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Fat Quinlan on July 27, 2004
Format: DVD
When I first saw this movie I thought it was one of the saddest and most beautiful films I'd ever seen, which I still think today. The fugitive, the melancholic painter, the abused girl, the ship, and the dog, oh yes, the dog will break your heart and duly so. This was the kind of movie Marcel Carné used to make, sad and beautiful, effortless, peerless, unforgettable. He later made Children of Paradise, which is far more ambitious than Port of Shadows in narrative and production terms and although Children of Paradise is usually considered his greatest film, I'd be hard pressed to tell which of the two is more ravishing. Children is a luxurious opera; Port is a mesmerizing chamber piece.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alton Gray on July 22, 2007
Format: DVD
An example of poetic realism, the French film movement (atmosphere would be more precise) between WWI and WWII, Port of Shadows is heavy on coincidence beginning, arguably, with the truck driver who transports Jean, the Jean Gabin character (and us) into the film. Jean hasn't eaten for two days and is given free food by an innkeeper; he meets a girl and the attraction is mutual; he needs new clothes and a passport so an artist commits suicide and leaves both to him, etc.

All of this would make for a predictable run-of-the-mill thing except for the fact that there is more than coincidence going on here and that the coincidences themselves are in many ways of little concern to the point of the film. Indeed, it seems that the filmmakers used coincidence as a way of dispensing with nettlesome plot necessities in order to focus more intently on what they wanted the film to convey. What it does convey, and quite nicely, is the sense of impending doom, a haunted past (Jean is a deserter who seems to harbor darker secrets in his past), the venality and corruptability of man, love gained and lost, and the futility of daily life when stacked against all of that. Hardly a sunny romp in the woods (somehow the fog seems to linger even in bright sunlight), but an entertaining film nonetheless.

Aside from the coincidences and the atmosphere, another interesting aspect is the way in which the Gabin character exits outside of society. A deserter (and one sense that he joined the army only a way to escape some former social unit), he has left behind that society in search of, not really another one, but perhaps a way to live outside any society at all, at least until he meets the girl.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Miller VINE VOICE on February 16, 2011
Format: DVD
After watching Children of Paradise, the 1945 film written by Jacques Prévert and directed by Marcel Carné, I felt that I had seen one of the most beautiful films ever made and was intrigued by what else Carné's filmography had to offer. I decided to follow up that film up with this film, also written by Prévert and based on a novel by Pierre Mac Orlan. Port of Shadows, released in 1938, is the first masterpiece by Carné and is one of the great hidden gems of cinema.

Jean (Jean Gabin) is a military deserter who stumbles into the fog-shrouded town of Le Havre, looking to get out of the country. The foggy landscape is an atmospheric foreshadowing of what will unfold for the characters. Jean, who finds himself accompanied by a small dog (one of the most loyal, loveable canine's I've seen on film), finds shelter in a shack at the edge of the water where he meets 17-year-old Nelly (Michèle Morgan). Nelly comes with her own personal baggage, including a missing boyfriend, a shady godfather named Zabel (Michel Simon), and a local hood named Lucien. Intending to depart the following day on a ship to Venezuela, Jean falls for Nelly despite the obstacles standing in their way.

Port of Shadows is so terrific on nearly every level it's unfathomable to me that someone could not like it. There are people who hold foreign films and/or black & white films in disdain, but even such biased viewers should find something here that appeals to them. Besides being just masterful on a cinematic level, it's actually very entertaining with scenes scattered throughout that range from tense to exciting to comedic to romantic.
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