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Grand Illusions: French Cinema Classics, 1928–1960

Sunday, December 9, 2012
5:00 p.m. Carnival in Flanders
Jacques Feyder (France, 1935)

Imported 35mm Print!

(La kermesse héroïque). “One of the rare, perfect works of the screen, this comedy masterpiece suggests a fusion of Breughel and Boccaccio. It is a morning in 1616; a Spanish regiment comes to a town in occupied Flanders. The cowardly burghers collapse, and their charming ladies meet the challenge: with the dawn the Spaniards depart, poorer in worldly goods, richer in experience” (Pauline Kael). An international success on its release, Carnival in Flanders later suffered in critical estimation, in part because of its uncomfortably cheery treatment of collaboration with the enemy; François Truffaut dismissed it as “pleasant and perfect”—precisely the qualities that make it worth revisiting today.

• Written by Charles Spaak, Feyder, based on a novel by Spaak. Photographed by Harry Stradling. With Françoise Rosay, André Alerme, Louis Jouvet, Jean Murat. (90 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From BFI Distribution, permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection)