Monday, June 26, 2017

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2014) by Year # 0119 - CEUX DE CHEZ NOUS (Sacha Guitry, 1915, France, BW) aka. Those of Our Land


CEUX DE CHEZ NOUS (Sacha Guitry, 1915, France, BW) aka. Those of Our Land


CEUX DE CHEZ NOUS (Sacha Guitry, 1915, France, BW) aka. Those of Our Land

Those of Our Land (1915)

Ceux de chez nous (original title)
44min | Documentary | 22 November 1915 (France)
Director: Sacha Guitry
Stars: André Antoine, Sarah Bernhardt, Edgar Degas 


André Antoine André Antoine
Sarah Bernhardt Sarah Bernhardt
Edgar Degas Edgar Degas
Anatole France Anatole France
Lucien Guitry Lucien Guitry
Sacha Guitry Sacha Guitry ...
Narrator (sound version)
Octave Mirbeau Octave Mirbeau
Claude Monet Claude Monet
Auguste Renoir Auguste Renoir
Jean Renoir Jean Renoir
Auguste Rodin Auguste Rodin
Edmond Rostand Edmond Rostand
Camille Saint-Saëns Camille Saint-Saëns


For a rerelease, perhaps in the late thirties, Guitry sat at a desk in front of a camera and read his supporting commentary for this film, which he had shot as a young man during WW I. He explains that he was disturbed by Germany's claim to have a monopoly on "culture." He decided to film the leading paradigms of French culture, although he knew nothing about making films. His commentary is excellent; he's drily amusing, respectful, and squarely behind the concept of genius. Of these fascinating glimpses of great men (and a woman), the most breathtaking by far is of Renoir, nonchalantly painting quick strokes with his arthritic hands, smoking and chatting. 

His young son Jean is attentive in the background, ready to put paints on the palate, etc. Of all the great men shown, Renoir seemed the most down-to-earth and natural, enjoying himself and ignoring the camera. His crippled, twisted fingers seemed not to bother him at all. The informal image of this master literally made me breathless, and left tears in my eyes. How fortunate that Guitry was farsighted enough to make this record. Other highlights are Monet painting his water lilies in his incredible water garden, and a brief shot of Degas walking down the street, filmed without his knowledge, since he refused to participate in the making of the film. It's not only fascinating to see Degas, but to see the Parisian street of the time.

Additional Information

Sacha Guitry

original name  Alexandre-Georges Guitry  
born Feb. 21, 1885, St. Petersburg, Russia
died July 24, 1957, Paris, France

Sacha, the son of the actor Lucien Guitry, achieved his first theatrical success with Nono (1905). This was followed by Chez les Zoaques (1906), Petite Hollande (1908), Le Scandale de Monte Carlo (1908), Le Veilleur de nuit (1911)—one of his best plays—and Un Beau Mariage (1911). It is difficult to draw an absolute distinction between his work as an actor and as a playwright, for his art was always to some extent in the nature of brilliant improvisation. His output was enormous: he had over 90 plays produced out of 130 that he wrote. He wrote a number of serious plays for his father to act in, including Debureau (1918), Pasteur (1919), and Béranger (1920). He wrote, directed, and acted in many motion pictures, of which the best known was perhaps Roman d'un tricheur (1936; “The Cheat”). His autobiography, Mémoires d'un tricheur (translated into English as If I Remember Right), appeared in 1935. He was made commander of the Legion of Honour in 1936 and elected to the Académie Goncourt in 1939.


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