DVD Release: Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation

DVD Release Date: July 24, 2012
Price: DVD $44.95
Studio: Criterion

Remorques movie scene

Jean Gabin gets involved with Michèle Morgan in Jean Grémillon's 1941 film Remorques.

The Criterion Collection continued its love affair with the great filmmakers of France with Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation, a selection of three film dramas and romances.

Though little known outside of France, Jean Grémillon was a consummate filmmaker from his country’s golden age. A classically trained violinist who discovered cinema as a young man when his orchestra was hired to accompany silent movies, he went on to make almost fifty films—which ranged from documentaries to avant-garde works to melodramas with major stars—in a career that started in the mid-1920s and didn’t end until the late 1950s. Three of his richest films came during a dire period in French history: Remorques was begun in 1939 but finished and released after Germany invaded France, and Lumière d’été and Le ciel est à vous were produced during the occupation. All are are character-driven dramas that reveal either a society on the precipice of doom or people breaking free of societal limitations.

All three films are presented in French with English subtitles and with a monaural audio track.

Here’s a run-down on the titles:

Lumière d’été (1943)

Remorques (1941)
Jacques Prévert co-wrote this atmospheric tale of the romantic trials of a tugboat captain, played by the iconic French star Jean Gabin. When André meets temptation in the form of the alluring Catherine (Michèle Morgan) during a risky rescue, he comes perilously close to betraying his wife (Madeleine Renaud) of ten years.

Lumière d’été (1943)
A shimmering glass hotel at the top of a remote Provençal mountain provides the setting for a tragicomic tapestry about an obsessive love pentangle whose principals range from artist to hotel manager to dam worker. Scripted by Jacques Prévert and Pierre Laroche, Lumière d’été l was banned from theaters for the duration of the occupation for its dark portrayal of the hedonistic excesses of the ruling class.

Le ciel est à vous
In this romantic drama, one of Grémillon’s most successful films, the wife (Madeleine Renaud) of a former fighter pilot (Charles Vanel) who is preoccupied with his glory days in the sky during World War I, falls in love with the idea of flying herself. This soon becomes an obsession, and she undertakes a lofty feat: the longest solo flight ever made by a woman.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.