Friday, August 16, 2013

Jean-Pierre Melville: Le deuxième souffle (Take II)

In addition to its meticulous construction of noirish detail, Jean-Pierre Melville's Le deuxième souffle (1966) clearly influences other films and series that likewise deal with grittiness, crime and the tactics of military/police occupation (even in "peacetime"). Fragmentary reflections of Melville's personal experience in the Resistance during World War II and the collective French and Algerian endurance of the Guerre d'Algérie (1954-1962) make their way into many scenes. Maybe that's also why it's sometimes difficult to tell whether "the good" are all that much better than "the bad." When they are, it's only by degree, or so it would seem.

Manouche and Commissaire Blot

Names and relationships. How important are memorable names in making a storyline work for you? Or do names become memorable because of a good storyline?  

Le deuxième souffle has several good names. (It's worth noting here that the movie is based on José Giovanni's 1958 novel of the same name, sometimes also referred to as Un reglement de comptes).

It took me a while to absorb that Gu (Lino Ventura) is Manouche's (Christine Fabréga's) sister, or that her first given name is Simone. Good to know early, because they are nicely contrasted against two gangster brothers, Paul and Jo Ricci. Other key characters include Commissaire Blot (what a name!), the mysterious Orloff -- and Antoine Ripa. I'm familiar with Ripa as a real family name only because, in the mists of some of my French ancestry, the name occasionally appears alongside the Saint-Bonnet folks. It's derived from Latin, meaning riverside, or living by the river (as in "riparian"). Manouche means Gypsy or Bohemian, or something like that. Cool beans!

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.


Lindy Benton-Muller said...


jodi said...

Erik-Can't help but notice the groovy cool hairstyles and clothes those old broads wore! I love that old, classy style!