below you can find a segment that aired on FM Brussel on 21oct15 for which I was interviewed by Saïd Al-Hassad. The occasion was off course ‘Back to the Future’ day. (Dutch audio only)
Back to Cinematek:
Today I saw ‘Sylvie et le fantôme’ (a.k.a. Sylvia and the Phantom) (1946) by Claude Autant-Lara.
The film tells the story of a young girl that has fallen in love with a man in a painting. This man however is no longer alive but is still wandering around as a ghost (a charming role for Jacques Tati). Therefore two suitors think they could conquer her by pretending to be that ghost.
This film is an elegant, delicious escapist movie. But what do you expect when the costumes are designed by none other than Christian Dior and the film is photographed by Philipe Agostini (DoP of a.o. ‘Le Jour se lève’ and the early Bresson films). That fact that the film was shot while World War II was still waging can in no way shape or form be noticed when you’re watching it. Only during one moment in the film in which one of the ‘fake’ ghosts is caught and the apprehenders notice they’ve caught the wrong one there is a line that you could potentially regard as a hint to WWII. One of the apprehenders says that there must be many ghosts wandering around to which the ghost replies: ‘Nous sommes nombreux, comme les morts.’ (‘We are many, as are the dead.’) A nice example of the elegant dialogue by Jean Aurenche who just has too many great credits to his name to mention. The fact that Betrand Tavernier was dying to work with him should say enough.
There is a lovely scene in which Jacques Tati as the ghost -who can only be seen by children and animals- finds a ghost costume of one of his impersonators. When he enters it he can finally start walking around as a ghost that everyone can see which gives him a whole new set of options.
If you’d like to see it yourselve you’ll either have to wait till Cinematek programmes it again or try to obtain the DVD, currently only available without subtitles (ASIN: B00BSVSSP4). Or hope it will air somewhere on a TV channel near you.