Louis Malle presents his meditative investigation of the inner workings of a French automotive plant. This, Vive le tour, and Place de la République, Malle’s three French-set documentaries, reveal, in an eclectic array of ways, the director’s eternal fascination with, and respect for, the everyday lives of everyday people. —The Criterion Collection
Louis Malle (born October 30, 1932, Thumeries, France—died November 23, 1995, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.) French motion-picture director whose eclectic films were noted for their emotional realism and stylistic simplicity.
Malle’s wealthy family resisted his early interest in film but allowed him to enter the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Paris in 1950. After studying at the institute, he worked as an assistant to filmmaker Robert Bresson and codirected the documentary Le Monde du silence (1956; The Silent World) with underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Malle’s first feature film, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1957; Frantic), was a psychological thriller. His second, Les Amants (1958; The Lovers), was a commercial success and established Malle and its star, Jeanne Moreau, in the film industry. The film’s lyrical love scenes, tracked with exquisite timing, exhibit Malle’s typically bold and uninhibited treatment of sensual themes. Social alienation… read more
It seems like it's trying to show us the working class experience which is so often absent from cinema. Instead we just get a lot of cars, and though the workers are present they are voiceless. The fact that Malle was so rich further compounds this speaking over/for a marginalized group, and theme that seems constant in his documentaries (see: Phantom India, Calcutta)
The automobile: from a sheet of steel to the showroom floor. A largely wordless film, with no score save the repetitive noises of the factory ("fthump-schlick...fthump-schlick"). It was interesting for about half an hour, but the non-chronological sequences and the mundanity of factory work bored me after a while. Definitely worth watching, though, as the film is concerned with the automobile as much as the people who are contributing toward its production. What are their stories? What are they thinking about while they're working? People-watchers will feel at home here.