08 19 Oct '24
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Jacques Feyder

Visages d'enfants (Mother)

Edition 1988
116' - 1925 - Mystery, Drama, Romance - Dialogue: French
Director: Jacques Feyder Composer: Dirk Brossé With: Jean Forest, Pierrette Houyez, Victor Vina
Visages d'enfants, with its original script, is something of an exception in the body of Feyder 's work and is perhaps his most personal film. In Visages d'Enfants the detail is minutely and accurately observed, the tone unforced and deceptively simple. Young Jean Forest, for example, as the boy who resents his new stepmother and stepsister, is so natural that one would be tempted to put it down to a simple capturing of behaviour along neo-realist lines, were not one able to compare his performance in Crainquebille and Gribiche. Films about children are notoriously subject to the ravages of time, and for every Zéro de Conduite which grows steadily in stature, there are a hundred Bicycle Thieves which appear more and more contrived as the years go by. Visages d'enfants bas its sentimentalities, of course, among them the melodramatic denouement in an avalanche, but they remain unimportant because the film is so honest in its observation both of children and of parents. The turbulent events, and the grandiose mountain scenery against which they take place, are never allowed to take over from the intimate recording of the experience.
As Liam O 'Leary has written: « Feyder seldom allows the sentimental in him to swamp his judgment, and his intense identification with the lives of his characters conveys experience in a most vital way. For instance, his camera sees people and places with the eyes of his children. When their story is over, we have a sense that they will now go on with their daily tasks and never perform any action which will ever cause anyone to single them out for attention again. » The film is by no means a naturalistic one, but it bas a naturalistic density which sets Feyder apart from other French filmmakers during the twenties. Roger Regent defined his position thus: « At a time when it was necessary to invest in a little aestheticism now and again in order to prove one 's worth, Feyder managed to establish himself as a serious artist without losing touch with the popular audiences. »
(NFT Programme Note)
The story is set in a small mountain village in Switzerland. Amsler, the mayor, loses his young wife. For bis son
Jean, this is a severe shock, for he highly adored his mother. After having done the household himself, Amsler decides he should remarry. He makes a deal with a young widow who has a daughter. He sends Jean to the parish priest in a neighbouring village, who will prepare Jean to his new mother and sister. At his return, Jean meets his new family but feels deeply betrayed by his father. He rejects his new mother and sister and makes a fuss whenever he can. But then, there is an avalanche.
Arlette, his stepsister, is missing ... There has never been any music for this film. Young Flemish composer Dirk Brossé is the first to give this fine film the musical splendour it deserves.

Image gallery

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Credits

Director

Jacques Feyder

Composer

Dirk Brossé

With

Jean Forest, Pierrette Houyez, Victor Vina

Scenario

Jacques Feyder, Dimitri De Zoubaloff, Françoise Rosay

Director of Photography

Paul Parguel, Léonce-Henri Burel

Editor

Jean de Merly

Producer

Dimitri De Zoubaloff

More information

Dialogue

French

Countries of production

Switzerland, France

Year

1925

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