Port of Shadows (The Criterion Collection)
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- New digital transfer with restored image and sound plus new subtitle translation
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Port of Shadows is French proto-noir. The film is put together nicely in terms of shooting and vibe; the main characters have an odd but good chemistry. Read morePublished 9 months ago by rbrogan3
There are films that are so special! And directors who are so talented! And writers who are so brilliant! And actors who are so extraordinary! Read morePublished on June 27, 2014 by R. de Aquino
I think I'm in love with Jean Gabin. He was honestly one of the finest actors of his generation, maybe the finest. Read morePublished on January 7, 2013 by Andrew Ellington
Slow and non-eventful even for a Euro film. Goes on and on then finally something happens at half way point then something at the end. Read morePublished on January 24, 2012 by Jack Bert
In "Le quai des brumes" ("Port of Shadows") (1939) a black and white film noir crime/ drama/romance/thriller, and another bleak classic of French cinema, the extraordinary French... Read morePublished on August 31, 2010 by Stephanie De Pue
Marcel Carne is well known for directing Children of Paradise, a quaint but inoffensive film that's actually mediocre. Read morePublished on December 20, 2008 by Justin R.
I first watched this film in an international film class in college. It struck me the first time I saw it, and I had to have it. It's an excellent film, way ahead of it's time. Read morePublished on August 24, 2007 by S. Bealey
Marcel Carné's PORT OF SHADOWS (Le Quai des Brumes) belongs to the list of movies we had to see in school in the seventies. Read morePublished on March 12, 2007 by Daniel S.
What happens when the director shoots a movie without a plot or a point or even a script and lets his famous actors improvise amok? The Port of Shadows. Read morePublished on December 9, 2006 by Noirist
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