Les visiteurs du soir (1942)

Les visiteurs du soir (“The Devil’s Envoys”)visiteurs du soir poster
Directed by Michel Carné
Written by Jacques Prevert and Pierre Laroche
1942/France
Productions André Paulvé

First viewing/Hulu Plus

 

This will surprise you, but I don’t know if I had a vocation – whether I was really mad about the cinema. When I thought of working on films, I thought of being an assistant director or set manager. Or, in moments of great vanity, a production manager. But I didn’t think of directing at the time. – Michel Carné

I waited in vain for this movie to make a point.

The story is set in the 15th Century.  Minstrels Gilles (Alain Cuny) and Dominique (Arletty) have been sent out into the world by the Devil (Jules Berry) to sow despair.  In this case, as so many others, the Devil’s strategy is to make people fall in love.  The ministrels arrive at a feast celebrating the upcoming marriage of Renaud and Anne.  Gilles easily conquers the pure Anne’s heart.  Dominique, after revealing her disguise as a boy, goes after both Renaud and Anne’s father.

visiteurs-du-soir-1942 1

Dominique is wildly successful.  However, Anne is so truly in love that she wins over Gilles to her side.  The Devil is concerned enough that he makes a personal visit to further screw things up.

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This movie is two hours along and I felt every minute of it.  If the message is that love conquers all, and I’m not 100% sure it was, it took Carne much too long to get there.  The screen comes alive whenever Berry appears on it.  Unfortunately he doesn’t show up until the last third of the movie.  Until then, there are way too many scenes of long meaningful glances between the lovers.

The film was hugely popular in France on release, in large part because people saw it as an allegory of France under occupation with the Devil representing Hitler and the lovers representing the still beating heart of France.  Carne denied that this was his intention until his death.

Trailer (no subtitles)

2 thoughts on “Les visiteurs du soir (1942)

  1. I have not seen this movie but wanted to comment on Arletty who I have seen in other films. Did you know she was arrested and imprisoned as a collaborator after France was liberated? She had a relationship with a German officer and that was enough to get her thrown in jail for a couple of years. But she did return to films with some success in later years.

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