Sunday, November 25, 2012
ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958)
Directed By: Louis Malle
Written By: Louis Malle & Roger Nimier
Based On the Novel By: Noel Calef
Cinematography By: Henri Decae
Editor: Leonide Azar
Original Music By: Miles Davis
Cast: Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau, Georges Poujouly, Yori Bertin
Florence Carala and her lover Julien Tavernier, an ex - paratrooper want to murder her husband by faking a suicide. But after Julien has killed him and he puts his things in his car, he finds he has forgotten the rope outside the window and he returns to the building to remove it.
The film is about so much more. A noir tale
I like the film. Louis Malle knew to shoot and convey emotions that would allow for interpretation. As the score seems to not only shape the scenes, but represent inner thoughts and emotions, The characters can’t bring to the surface. Though now and then we do get to hear them in voiceovers that usually lead to memories.
The score is awesome a jazz score done by Miles Davis. Who reportedly recorded it as he watched the film. If so that is not only cool but makes the film all that more impressive.
Miles Davis recorded the music with a quartet of French musicians in a few hours (from 11pm to 5am one night), improvising each number and sipping champagne with Jeanne Moreau and Louis Malle.
The film quite honestly surprised me. I knew what the main story was and thought it would be about his time in the elevator. Thankfully the movie expands to open us a side story that is closely connected to the main one and we see the co-conspirator in the main story go through emotions of betrayal. The film amazingly manages to make us feel sorry that in any other tale would be a villain. Sure he’s bad but doesn’t deserve the fate that it looks like he will be doomed to.
It’s interesting that all these things are happening beyond the main characters control. While he is oblivious to it all. Then the 3rd act is a high wire act of a thriller. Wondering what will happen next. While the film ends in heartbreak. I do have to say this is one of the most romantic films I have seen. Though it is dealt more with as an afterthought. It is a devastating doomed romantic tale. That gives us a view of young romantic love. The danger the Ecstasy against experienced love. The real toll and emotions it takes.
Louis Malle shot his lead actress Jeanne Moreau in close-up and natural light and often without make-up. Moreau, an icon of French film, had never been seen like this before, to the extent that lab technicians reportedly appalled at how unflatteringly she was photographed, refused to process the film. Once they were persuaded to, however, it soon began clear that Malle had captured every nuance of Moreau's performance.
It’s a one of a kind film that brings recognizable human emotions into genre filmmaking
There are long stretches of scenes with no dialogue and just score. Hard to believe That it took me so long to see this film and the only reason that got me to watch the film so soon. Though I would have watched it eventually as a recognized film classic, was the film BROKEN EMBRACES. The director wants to watch the film in a scene in that movie and I know Pedro Almodovar likes to pay homage and showcase films, genres and filmmakers that inspire him.
This film is a revelation and surprisingly only the second Louis Malle film that I ever watched (The first, THE LOVER) While that one was more explicit and raw with romance, sex and sexuality.
Definitely an addition to the home film library.