When looking for a theme in which to select films from the start of November until Thanksgiving being literal is not the best option. Films centered around Thanksgiving tend to be overly obsessed with dysfunctional families. So in thinking about the nature of the day which was initially a celebration of survival in the New World, I thought why not focus on foreign films.
The Green Room
Truffaut’s The Green Room may be his great over-looked gem. It is a film that I think still deserves the Criterion treatment even though it was saved from the Land of the Out of Print by the wonderful new On Demand services.
It is a film that sees Francois Truffaut make a rare trip in front of camera, not only as an actor but one playing a character unlike himself to a large extent. Unlike his turn in Day for Night in this film he is not a director but a journalist who after World War I starts to detach himself from the world lamenting all those he has lost.
The film is a fascinating examination of how to reconcile the fact that even as we live we are amidst death. It examines a character who is overly-preoccupied with those who have passed such that he forgets how to live. Perhaps what is most impressive is that it takes an noble and relatable premise, respecting and honoring the dead, and takes it to an extreme such that we se how detached from reality one can become.
It is also a refreshingly intimate piece. There aren’t many players concerned in the drama here. There is the home nucleus: Julien, Georges and Mme Rambaud. Then Julien also interacts with his boss on a few occasions and Cecilia most of all. This allows the drama to be very focused on the protagonist and his obsession.
This film is a sparkling example of Truffaut’s simplicity shining through. It’s an examination of character and theme where all is very apparent and he wants you to delve deeper and search for more within the film. It is often hypnotic, always fascinating and a must see no matter how you manage to obtain it.