Tanssiaiskortti / Efter balen / Spiel der Erinnerung. FR 1937. PC: Productions Sigma. Original distributor: Les Films Vog. EX: Jean Lévy-Strauss. P: Jean-Pierre Frogerais. D: Julien Duvivier. Ass D: Charles Dorat. SC: Julien Duvivier, Henri Jeanson, Yves Mirande, Jean Sarment, Pierre Wolff, Bernard Zimmer. CIN: Philippe Agostini, Michel Kelber, Pierre Levent. PD: Jean Douarinou. Set dec: Paul Colin, Serge Piménoff. SFX: Paul Minine, Nicolas Wilcké. M: Maurice Jaubert. Theme tune: "Valse grise" (Maurice Jaubert). S: Jacques Carrère, Roger Rampillon. ED: André Versein.
C: Marie Bell (Christine de Guérande devenue Christine Surgère), Maurice Bénard (Brémond, ami fidèle de Christine), Françoise Rosay (Marguerite Audié, the insane mother, mother of Georges Audié), Louis Jouvet (Pierre Verdier, dit Jo, night club owner), Harry Baur (Alain Regnault, devenu le père Dominique), Pierre-Richard Willm (Eric Irvin, alpine guide and ski coach), Raimu (François Patusset, mayor), Pierre Blanchar (Thierry Raynal, the dubious doctor), Fernandel (Fabien Coutissol, hairdresser for ladies), Robert Lynen (Jacques Dambreval, the son of Gérard Dambreval), Milly Mathis (Cécile Galtéry, Patusset's fiancée, his former maid), Sylvie (Gaby, Thierry's lover), Andrex (Paul, Patusset's adopted mauvais fils), Jeanne Fusier-Gir (magazine seller in Marseilles), La Manécanterie des Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois (the child singers), Pierre Alcover (Teddy), Roger Legris (Mélanco), Alfred Adam (Fred), Peggy Bonny (nightclub hostess), Simone Gauthier (a young woman in her first ball), Marguerite Ducouret (the mother of the young woman).
Helsinki premiere: 14.1.1938 at the Capitol, distributed by Kosmos-Filmi Oy – telecast 24.4.1976 TV2, 4.10.1988 TV1 – classification: 21282 – K16 – 3300 m / 120 min
2K DCP from Gaumont (2011 digital restoration supported by the CNC, 130 min).
Viewed with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Julien Duvivier), 23 Feb 2017
UN CARNET DE BAL – 11 VERSIONS
Catalogue des films françaises, IMDb, Wikipedia 144 min
Variety 135 min
Tulard 132 min
Time Out and Gaumont DCP+dvd 130 min
Sadoul 125 min
Lourcelles 123 min
Gaumont 2016 blu-ray 120 min
British Film Institute National Archive 112 min
Motion Picture Guide 109 min
KAVI nitrate print 105 min
Desrichard: Julien Duvivier 2800 m = 102 min
IMDb synopsis: "Christine, newly widowed and consumed by the memory of a ball she attended age 16, decides to track down the men she danced with that night and discover their fates."
A ghostly waltz by Maurice Jaubert carries Julien Duvivier's multi-character study Un carnet de bal which at the time was lauded by some as the best film of all times and in any case with Pépé le Moko represented a double whammy of an international breakthrough for Duvivier. Un carnet de bal inspired a revival of the episode / multi-character format, and Duvivier himself returned to the concept in Hollywood in Lydia, Manhattan, and Flesh and Fantasy.
Today Un carnet de bal seldom appears even on a shortlist of Duviviers's major films, and I wonder why. In Finland it has always been revered, not least thanks to Peter von Bagh who valued it highly as one of the cinema's great journeys into memory. "The past lives in the present", a watchword in Un carnet du bal, comes close to Peter's territory. Duvivier in Un carnet de bal has an assured approach in the dream mode, the very life current of the cinema. The film is compelling, bitter, funny, and profoundly ironic.
On her journey into the past Christine meets the men who had loved her before she got married and sees what has happened to their dreams. Her journey is an actual trip all across France, including the Alps and the port of Marseilles. Having discovered her teenage dance book she is equipped by her good friend with a list of addresses, and thus she can plan a trajectory.
But on her search of the men in her life she is also really in search of herself. As a young girl she was a beautiful illusion to the men who loved her. The years have changed Christine, as well. Her first ball took place in 1919, and now we live in 1937. "I had no youth. There was no love. Solitude is the same everywhere".
The years have passed in solitude, and the men of Christine's youth are now mere shadows of their former selves. Georges Audié has killed himself, and his mother (Françoise Rosay) still lives in the past of 1919. Pierre Verdier (Louis Jouvet) has become a crooked night club owner. Alain Regnault (Harry Baur) is now Father Dominique, in charge of a boys' choir. Eric Irvin (Pierre-Richard Willm) is an alpine guide more devoted to the mountains than any particular person. The politically ambitious François Patusset (Raimu) is now a mayor at his village, about to marry his maid. Thierry Raynal (Pierre Blanchar) has become an illegal abortion doctor at Marseilles, also seemingly a heroine addict (h seems to get the cold turkey); he shoots his harridan lover. Fabien Coutissol (Fernandel) has become a hairdresser for ladies and a happy family father. Fabien is the only man who could truly dance, and he is the only one who invites Christine to a ball now, but during the dance they fully realize that nothing is the same anymore. One name was missing from Christine's trajectory: Gérard Dambreval. Even his address has now been found, and he turns out to reside at the other side of the Italian lake where Christine has lived all these years. Alas, Gérard has recently died. Christine decides to take care of Jacques Dambreval, Gérard's orphan son. In the final ball Christine meets a young woman of 16...
The synopsis may sound gloomy, but humoristic and life-affirming episodes are included: those of Father Dominique and his prank-loving boys, Eric Irvin and his love of the outdoors, Raimu's comical marriage sequence, and Fernandel's gentle episode at the hairdresser's and at the ball.
The sequences had different screenwriters and cinematographers. Each episode has a distinctive visual world. The most extreme is the Thierry Raynal sequence with its skewed angles and framings.
The story is not plausible from the viewpoint of realistic psychology. It is a subjective vision in which the lives of all the men in Christine's life's have been ruined in some way. Some are dead, others are living dead, and yet others seem to be on the run from themselves. Un carnet de bal is a film about ambition and reality, but more profoundly it is a haunting poetic vision on the might of memory.
There are 11 different versions of Un carnet de bal, and I made a superficial attempt to find an expert to comment on them and did not find any. At Gaumont they announced us a duration of 105 minutes for the film but when the DCP arrived it was 130 min, apparently the longest available version now. 14 minutes are missing from the premiere edition.
The cinematography by Philippe Agostini, Michel Kelber, and Pierre Levent is masterful. The Italian lake landscape in the beginning immediately strikes a note of transcendence. The journey takes us into milieux that are different in the extreme: the profane and the holy, the mountains and the sea, Paris and the countryside. Un carnet de bal is a film about escapism but it also satisfies a certain appetite for escapism. No wonder it was a blockbuster.
A brilliant digital restoration of 2011 of the 130 minutes version.
BEYOND THE JUMP BREAK: OUR PROGRAM NOTE BASED ON GEORGES SADOUL AND RUNE WALDEKRANTZ: