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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
3:00 p.m. Murmur of the Heart
Louis Malle (France, 1971)

Lecture by Marilyn Fabe

Special admission prices apply: General admission, $11.50; BAM/PFA members, $7.50; UC Berkeley students, $5.50; Seniors, disabled persons, UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non–UC Berkeley students, and youth 17 and under, $8.50.

(Le souffle au coeur). Coming-of-age tales mark rich territory for the cinema, but Louis Malle’s version—complete with a young boy lovingly laying out his mother’s underwear and trying on her makeup—surpasses them all in joyfully smashing a social taboo. Capturing the free-spirited spontaneity of The 400 Blows and other seminal New Wave works, the film begins in 1954 Dijon, where our young hero Laurent raises money for the wounded of Indochina while simultaneously shoplifting Charlie Parker albums. His antiwar, pro-jazz policies start taking a backseat to a more pressing concern, however: his need to lose his virginity. Sent to a spa to recuperate from a heart murmur, Laurent finds the perfect opportunity. Banned for several years from French television, Murmur of the Heart is, as Pauline Kael wrote, “mellow and smooth . . . but with the kick of a mule—a funny kick, which sends you out doubled over grinning.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Malle. Photographed by Ricardo Aronovich. With Benoit Ferreux, Lea Massari, Marc Winocourt, Fabien Ferreux. (118 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)