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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 7. June 23rd, 1948

The Baker's Wife—Film Review

The Baker's Wife—Film Review

The drunken baker ignored the protests of the priest and the professor and gabbled comically as be mimicked the antics of his wife and her lover galloping away on the marquis' horse. Everybody laughed, and then became silent and rather embarrassed when the baker burst into a stream of tears under the obvious stress of his self-pity. "No, she's gone to her mother's," he sobbed. "She'll be back tomorrow."

This laughable, admirable character who had come to bake for a Provencal village could be as pathetic as the irony of the villagers was funny. Through this contrast of comedy and pathos, Giono, the author of La Femme du Boulanger, and the producer, Pagnol, have combined to create a notable "human comedy" film.

From the time of David's Lament over Jonathan to the present, there is nothing more pitiable in literature than the inconsolable grief of a man. And few settings can contribute that sense of unity and remoteness to a play than that of the village community with all its medieval relationships. Any tendency to escapism is offset by the characters, who, although portrayed as "types." are real in their inter-relations and their responses to situations. "When this alternation of pathetic and humorous situations is expertly handled, that is sufficient to make La Femme du Boulanger a great film.

There are other factors—the choice of settings, the brisk conversation, and sequence of dramatic scenes, each a small play in itself. It is here that the plan of integration of the theme was at fault and the rapid progression of scenes was a little tiring, although such technique gave the film a rather pleasant primitive atmosphere that became the village setting.

La Femme du Boulanger will not be a popular success. Too much of the beauty is in the wit of the conversation—not as read from the tags, but as associated with the gestures and grimaces of the villagers, and any attempt to follow the whole demands an alert and untiring mind as well as a strong pair of eyes. People who are prepared to work for their entertainment are fairly scarce in our community, and La Femme du Boulanger will be considered what it in fact is—a good French film for Frenhmen. But it can also be ninetv minutes of instructive entertainment for intelligent New Zealanders.