Le quai des brumes
Directed by Marcel Carné
Cornerhouse, 23 September 2012
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.