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Friday, November 2, 2012

Les Visiteurs Du Soir (aka The Devil's Envoys) (1942)

In medieval France of 1485, two of Satan's emissaries disguised as a traveling brother (Alain Cuny, LA DOLCE VITA) and sister (Arletty, LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS) minstrel team, arrive at the castle of the Baron Hugues (Fernand Ledox). Their intention is to spread suffering and heartbreak and leave when their mission is accomplished. But when the brother falls in love with the Baron's daughter (Marie Dea), their assignment begins to unravel. This elegant fantasy on love and survival was shot by Marcel Carne under the Nazi occupation of France. It's so rich and luxurious that it's hard to believe it was shot under wartime conditions. Since it was shot under the Nazi occupation, it's easy to read into the film's romanticism as a parable for France's indomitability to survive Hitler as represented by Jules Berry's Satan in the film though Carne denied such intentions. Whether one takes the political climate into account or not, the film is a moving love story imbued with dark humor (most of it when Berry's devil enters the story). Most curious though is that in a film about Satan, there's not a single mention of God! The majestic score is by Maurice Thiriet. With Marcel Herrand as Dea's crude fiance.

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