Une mission chrétienne dans la Chine des années 1930. La petite communauté attend avec impatience l'arrivée du nouveau médecin. Cette dernière, une femme indépendante et athée, choque la directrice, rigide et puritaine. Quand éclate une épidémie de choléra, le docteur fait montre de calme et de compétence et réussit à l'enrayer. Fort moyen www.cinefiches.com
Wow. One of Ford's most beautifully photographed films, there's a warmth to it all and the score is also one of his best, subtle and moving, implying an inevitable sense of doom from the beginning. The religious institution seems to replace the usual role of the law, where the hypocrisies of it are exposed as its strict boundaries are tested against real moral situations. Anne Bancroft is incredible.
Just as Nietzsche was broken down by the whipping of a horse, so to are these women by the savagery they must witness. Much like The Searchers, the best scenes are where everything is implied rather than put out in the open. In short, we sense their sacrifices, their doubts and their worries rather than being told. My only issue is that Susan Lyon is a bit underdeveloped and that overall the film can feel unremitting
Ford went out on his most apocalyptic vision, a film that shows his epic movie-making undimmed (even at 80 minutes) and gives a delicate treatment of the themes of his career—at least until the third act, when the movie descends into a white racist nightmare that's not nearly ironic enough.
A modern morality play - more Brechtian than anything Brecht possibly envisioned (certainly more distanciated and conscious of form and design on viewer than anything I have seen at the Berliner Ensemble) - taut as a tuned violin string and as radiant in its musical expense of itself and its themes.
John Ford's last completed film is one of his best and cheapest. Margaret Leighton and Anne Bancroft struggle over the running of a Mission in rural China in 1935 and the young and impressionable Sue Lyon. When they're overrun and taken prisoner by Mongolian Bandits, Bancroft uses her worldly femininity to save the rest of them, though not herself. It's an unexpected and appropriate end to a great body of work.
I suppose whether this is Ford's greatest or not is ultimately up to the viewer (though I've just reconfirmed for maybe the 20th time that at the very least this is Ford's 'heaviest' film) but moreover this film should be what is considered "textbook" for film schools. Not a single frame, gesture, movement, word or even line reading is wasted.