Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Comment j'ai mangé du pain K.K. / [How I Ate K.K. Bread] (2014 Gaumont digital transfer in 2K)

Comment j'ai mangé du pain K.K. (FR 1915). Photo: Gaumont Pathé Archives.

?, (FR 1915), cast: Marie Dorly, Édouard Grisollet, prod: Gaumont, DCP, 15’20”; titles: FRA, source: Gaumont Pathé Archives, Saint-Ouen, Paris.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone: Grande Guerra 100.
    Grand piano: Neil Brand.
    Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in English and Italian, 4 Oct 2017

Pierre Philippe (GCM 2017): "It’s considered a basic truth that the seismic events of August 1914 were a sort of death blow for French film production. However, the facts are more nuanced. While it is true that the departure for the front of studio staff, filmmakers, technicians, and actors put a stop to the copious ongoing production of films for several weeks, the needs of the public and the desire to affirm the nation’s vitality and disseminate government propaganda very soon gave renewed life to popular spectacle, which was, and remains, the cinema."

"The images of this patriotic cinema sought to be reassuring and designed for everyone. The reality of the War was generally treated as a backdrop for updating some tried and true recipes that had already proven successful. The romances of yesteryear remained in the forefront, even if they now blossomed between gravely injured men and winsome nurses."

"Most wartime productions consisted of dramas highlighting the solidarity between various social classes equally afflicted by the harsh realities of the period, but hard times only put a slight dent in the production of farces that the public still clamoured for. Admittedly, Jean Durand’s famous comedy company at Gaumont, “Les Pouics”, found themselves enlisted, but movie theatres continued to require a steady supply of such entertainment."

"Comment j’ai mangé du pain K.K. is an archetypal example of anti-German propaganda, and stands on its own as pure comedy. Opening his morning newspaper, a middle-class Parisian reads the recipe for K.K. bread, the German Kartoffelkriegsbrot made from potato flour, whose sound and substance – when pronounced, K.K. is the equivalent of “caca,” or “poop” – would have horrified any self-respecting Frenchman. Convinced of its nutritional values, the man asks his baker to make him a loaf. Though sceptical, the artisan complies and delivers the bread, whereupon our bold gourmet is struck down by atrocious stomach pains. To console him, the baker brings him a loaf of good French bread that very evening."

"Far more effectively than other ostensibly serious titles, a film such as this functions as an appealing record, and is often more illuminating than pure documentary actualities, which in any event were generally pieced together.
" Pierre Philippe

AA: Comedy, war propaganda of the nicest kind: make them laugh. German wartime bread such as "Kriegs-Kartoffel-Brot": quelle horreur.

No comments: