Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Le Matelot 512 (Or: Able Seaman 512)

The film is based on a manuscript the director received from the author (Emile Guinde): an old sailor who allegedly related memories from his youth. In 1907 Max (Jacques Penot) had taken a job as a sailor, known as "sailor 512". He then became a captain's (Bruno Kremer) orderly, got the maid (Laure Duthilleul) pregnant and had an affair with the captain's wife (Dominique Sanda)... After a murder story, we find him again in the Legion. He also takes part in World War I... The old man's memories seem slightly exaggerated, no doubt about that. Even though it appears at first sight as a popular novel, the well-balanced profile Allio managed to give it makes the film highly attractive. When Matelot 512 was released, René Allio described in his “Carnets” what he would then claim to be the objective of his life as a film director: To face difficulties, to fight, to overcome obstacles, to start anew (...) To definitely be what one is, an intellectual and an artist, without trying to "elude it", or to fool oneself trying to be "normal", to do "like everyone else", and to make "ordinary cinema".

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