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Le quai des brumes

Directed by Marcel Carné

France, 1938

Cornerhouse, 23 September 2012

Le quai des brumes

As I left the cinema, a question: has anyone ever written a book about the dog in French film?

There is an urgent need for such a study, and I’d suggest that any prospective scholar should start by considering Carné’s classic.

Jean Gabin’s soldier saves a dog’s life by forcing a truck to swerve.  Later, a dog – the same one, you’d bet your life on it – follows him about.  He can’t seem to get rid of it: the dog is a constant companion, maybe even a protector.  Then there falls a day when the dog is kept on a leash indoors, tied up as Gabin goes on an urgent mission.  It is a fateful day.

It is a very French film, what with lots of lines about love and life, art and human nature, and many neat touches.  Such as how when Zabel – a subtle villain and music lover – is killed, Bach is playing on the radio.

Some of the sentiments you’ll find in Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre and, from what I remember, there’s a dog in that film too.  It follows the immigrant boy about.  Above all, though, there are the acts of unexpected kindness and hospitality; they play a significant role in both films.

Le quai des brumes is showing again on Wednesday as part of the Matinee Classics season, further details are here.