Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Henri Langlois Phantom of the Cinematheque|
Actors: Henri Alekan, Catherine Allégret, Jean-Michel Arnold, Christian Auboire, François Barat
Director: Jacques Richard
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Educational
Unsung hero of the French New Wave
Karl Pallmeyer | Austin, TX | 07/02/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Henri Langlois was an important, but little known, figure in the French New Wave cinema. Although he never made a film, he was an inspiration to Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and scores of others who changed world cinema in the early 1960s.
Langlois was the head of the French Cinematheque, an organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of film. While Langlois helped to save several films that might have been lost to the ravages of time, perhaps his greatest talents lay in the programs he presented at the Cinematheque. By showing both accepted classics of world cinema along with rare American genre films, Langlois opened his audiences to a wide range of cinematic styles. Those audiences -- which included Truffaut, Godard and others -- took what they saw and went on to make some of the best films in the history of cinema.
A somewhat eccentric figure with unorthodox working methods, Langlois became the focus of controversy that led to his being ousted from the Cinematheque, which erupted into a fire storm of protest led by Truffaut and other New Wave figures. Unfortunately, the Cinematheque never fully recovered.
When I saw this documentary at the 2004 Telluride Film Festival, it ran well over three hours. According to the product description, the DVD runs slightly longer than two hours. Usually, a film gets longer on its DVD release, as the director restores cuts he had to make to get the film in theaters. With this film, it's probably best that the DVD version is shorter. In the theatrical version, many of the interviews repeated the same information and one segment of the film took off on a tangent that had little to do with the focus of the story. Hopefully, the cuts help the flow of the film. (If that's the case, I'll change my rating from three to four stars.) For the completist, those extra interviews would make nice bonus material."
Labor of Love
Randy Buck | Brooklyn, NY USA | 02/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The caption for this review's applicable both to the picture and its subject. Seven years in the making, this marvelous documentary brings Henri Langlois, the monstre sacre of French film scholarship, to glorious life. His love for, and encyclopediac knowledge of, world film inspired several generations of film makers, most notably the nouvelle vague directors, many of whom appear in fascinating archival footage here. Langlois' shabby treatment by the French government still inspires anger and disgust; an old friend shares the story of how, after his death, Mary Meerson, Henri's long-time companion and co-worker at the Cinémathèque Française, stuffed his holey shoes with condolence telegrams from around the world -- from such distinguished admirers as Fellini and Kurosawa -- and sent them in silent remonstrance to the French government. Well, the French establishment may have been remiss, but movie fanatics the world over regard Langlois' genius with great affection, and the portrait on display in PHANTOM is a richly satisfying banquet for neophyte scholars and specialists alike. Moving, fascinating, and highly, highly recommended."