Easy to see why Grémillon took his name off the credits: he thought he'd sculpted a masterpiece and some barbarous idiot went and hacked the head and limbs off of it. Still, as headless limbless torsos go, it's dazzling. As with Greed and Ambersons, one despairs at the cruel butchery of a likely masterpiece.
This film was incomprehensibly butchered (by the distributor?) down to 48 minutes, probably about half of its original length. Jean Gremillon took his name off of it. No director is listed in the credits. Perhaps the excised footage had something to do with race issues which were controversial, who knows? Nonetheless, the extant film is remarkable, powerful, and has images strange, mysterious and unforgettable.
A short treatise on cinema as rapture: mystery and intimidation, sensuality and destruction, created by the transfiguring power of images and sounds, by its evocative abstraction and its reliance on a free-form editing, associative by dissonance.The masquerade sequence is a profound demonstration of it, by its unbelievable threatening dimension that becomes credible in the eyes of the beholder, where cinema lies.