Les visiteurs du soir (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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'Les Visiteurs de Soir' literally translates into 'The Visitors of the Evening', but the English world has taken the liberty of calling it 'The Devil's Envoys'. This remarkable gem, a remnant of the early 1940s, is French romanticism at its best. While the original tale is a fable that children will delight in, the film-making team also saw the story as a way to make a point about the political establishment at the time. Marcel Carne has repeatedly won my respect as a film-maker, and though his crowning glory remains 'Les Enfants du Paradis', this little known film remains perhaps his most sly attempt at movie-making. Almost every sentence is a statement of political defiance, and every frame of the film is bathed in the unnaturally brilliant light that Marcel shot his movies in.
'Les Visiteurs de Soir' looks older than it actually is. Perhaps this has something to do with the horrendous transfer that this particular edition is inflicted with. There are patches where it seems the film has burned away - gaping holes and scars are evident, which leads one to wonder what condition the master film is actually in.Read more ›
The story opens in May, 1485 where the Devil has sent two of his envoys to drive humans to despair.Read more ›
"What do you expect? No-one loves me. I amuse myself as best I can."
Overshadowed outside France by both that other Medieval romantic fantasy and its director's Les Enfants du Paradis but revered in its homeland as one of the great films of the war years, Marcel Carne's Les Visiteurs du Soir has been particularly hard for non-French speakers to see for years: not released on video and unseen on UK TV for three decades, it's only with Criterion's largely unheralded DVD and Blu-ray release that many will have got the chance to finally see his tale of demons and marvels. While it doesn't cast as magic or as poetic an ethereal spell as Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete, it's still an impressive fable whose added resonance for a Nazi-occupied population is easy to see even if Carne and co-writer Jacques Prevert always insisted that no anti-Nazi subtext was intended, the Medieval setting simply the easiest way to get around the German censors.
The plot is simple: two minstrels arrive at a castle, whose occupants are celebrating the betrothal of the Baron's daughter initially unaware that the two visitors (Arletty and Alain Cuny) have been sent by the Devil to sow discord by loving and destroying them and leaving the Devil to pick up the tab. Not that they don't have plenty of raw material to work with: despite the jollity of the banquets and the lack of work for the executioner, the castle is almost underpinned by sadness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely gorgeous movie. Marcel Carne - truly a master of his craft - understood the language of cinema like few others, and when his beautifully expressive visuals and keen... Read morePublished on December 21, 2012 by Jordan
The script involves us in the XV Century when the devil forces will fight hardly to imposse its will . Read morePublished on December 25, 2004 by Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela
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