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  •  LE COLONEL CHABERT, by René Le Hénaff - 1943

 Country : France

 Medium : Black and white

 Duration : 98'

 Video : René Chateau Vidéo

 Production : Édouard Harispuru / CCFC

 Scenario : Pierre Benoît and Maurice Griffe after Honoré de Balzac

 Screenplay : Pierre Benoît

 Music : Louis Beydts

 Director of photography : Robert Le Febvre

 Plot : Colonel Chabert, having lost an arm (and very nearly his life) at the Battle of Eylau, returns to France ten years later. But with the restoration of the monarchy things have changed - as have the people...

 Cast : Raimu (Colonel Chabert) ; Marie Bell (Rose Chabert / Ferraud) ; Aimé Clariond (Maître Derville) ; Jacques Baumer (Delbecq) ; Fernand Fabre (Count Ferraud) ; Jacques Charon ; Alcover ; André Varenne ; Roger Blin ; Edward Gardere ; René Stern Paul Temps

 Extract : « Derville. - Who are you ?
Chabert. - I am Colonel Chabert.
Derville. - Which ?
Chabert. - The one who died at Eylau.
Derville. - What can I do for you ?
Chabert. - Sir, I came to see my sollicitor, Roguet, but I have just learned that he is dead. My situation is sorry and extreme, and only the law can help me regain my fortune and my station. Unfortunately for me, my death has been ratified by history and is reported in the official documents of the time.
Derville. - Does your wife know of your existence ?
Chabert. - Yes, Sir, she does. When I arrived in Paris I went to her house - my house.
Derville. - And what did she do ?
Chabert. - She tried to have me locked up in a madhouse in order to get rid of me. My wife, who owes her fortune and happiness to me, has never once tried to send me even the slightest assistance. At times I know nothing. Sir, I don't know whether I still love her or if I hate her. [...] If I had had family, all this would never have happened. I was a foundling, called Hyacinthe, ennobled by Napoleon. I was a soldier whose only inheritance was his courage, whose family was France and whose father was the Emperor. Ah, if only he were still here. He would never have allowed this. But what can one do, Sir ? Our sun has set. And it's a cold night for all of us. »

 Review : What better actor than Raimu to play this most Napoleonic of Balzac's heroes. With his style of acting redolent of his native southern France, he plays a cold, calculating and yet extraordinarily noble Chabert. Marie Bell as the Ferraud and Aimé Clariond (from the Comédie-Française) as Derville, the cast is of an exceedingly high standard. The scenery by Jacques Colombier is reminiscent of Christian-Jacque's Symphonie fantastique and Robert Bresson's Dames du bois de Boulogne. With this film, French cinema of the Occupation years, despite the sad times, earned the epithet "the greatest collection of masterpieces in the world".



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