Clare's Criterion Collection

Here Is My Criterion Collection. See What I Have Bought & Read My Reviews. Follow Me As I Explore My Collection.

Review # 18 – L’Enfance Nue

on October 22, 2014

L'enfance neu

Spine # 534

Available on DVD

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • L’amour existe, director Maurice Pialat’s poetic 1960 short film about life on the outskirts of Paris
  • Autour de “L’enfance nue,” a fifty-minute documentary shot just after the film’s release
  • Excerpts from a 1973 French television interview with Pialat
  • New visual essay by critic Kent Jones on the film and Pialat’s cinematic style
  • Video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip LopateNew cover by Steve Chow

The next Criterion for me to watch was my choice of Rota. I always have a few titles to pick from and the winner was this offering from Maurice Pialat.

In an ideal world every child born would be wanted and loved, would be cared for and given every opportunity to fulfil their life to the fullest. Sadly this is very far from reality for many. For them growing up is one constant battle. Love, stability, warmth and even friendship can be hard to come by when you are one of the thousands of children growing up in Foster care.

Our friend in this film is François; he is 10 years old and has very little in the way of a happy childhood. After being abandoned by his Mother; he has come to live with a still relatively young couple and their biological Daughter. As with many children in his situation, he is troubled and not easy to handle. Sadly this turns deadly and once again he is on the move but not before showing a side of him that we will come to see more of later.

“You get used to it”

Those are not the words of François but the social worker taking a group of abandoned children to the city, a seemingly never-ending flow of children needing a home that is sadly still relevant today (the film was made in 1968)

Thankfully an older couple, played by real-life Foster parents René and Marie-Louise Thierry (this film was based around their personal experience with a young boy called Didier), offer him stability and the chance to grow. “Grandpa” shows him his service medals, “Nana” sings for him and two other children in the house give François siblings to enjoy. This includes play fighting and reading comics, normal children activities. The extended family is introduced into his life when he attends a family wedding. More singing and dancing is enjoyed as the Relatives embrace François, even telling him “You’re a nice boy”

Trouble is not far away but thanks to the hard work, attention and love given to him there will be a positive ending but maybe not the one you are thinking of right now. For me this part of the film shows that if children are given the chance to face the consequences of their actions then they can learn, not only how to behave in society but how to respect it. More programs are needed where children can repay for their mistakes by benefiting those within their community and maybe give them a sense of belonging. I feel that is all François ever wanted, to belong. I really hope he found it in Nana and Grandpa.

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