Le Corbeau (1943)

LE CORBEAU (1943)
aka The Raven
Article 1896 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-24-2006
Posting Date: 10-21-2006
Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Featuring Pierre Fresnay, Ginette Leclerc, Micheline Francey

A small town is plagued by an onslaught of poison pen letters signed by someone called The Raven, most of which target a doctor who is suspected of performing abortions.

Try as I might, I can’t really bring myself to classify this mystery / drama as belonging to any of the fantastic genres. Yes, it deals with the theme of madness, and one character is slightly crippled (deformities are often used in horror films), but neither of these aspects of the story are used in any way to suggest horror. Of the sources I have been using to compile my hunt list, only the Lentz guide lists this movie, and I suspect he may have been taken in by its translated title. After all, I’ve covered three other films also called THE RAVEN, and though all three are quite different (Universal horror Lugosi/Karloff vehicle , AIP fantasy comedy , and silent Poe biopic ), all of them do use the Poe poem as a source of inspiration. This one has nothing to do with Poe, but I can understand how someone seeing the title THE RAVEN on something would automatically assume a connection.

Nonetheless, this is a very good movie. It was made during the German occupation of France, and the film was condemned both by the Nazis and the French, as well as the Catholic church. Clouzot would be banned from the film industry for two years for making movies under the Nazi regime, though this movie is hardly pro-Nazi. In fact, one of the political interpretations of the film is that the fear caused by the poison-pen letters was very similar to the fear of being under Nazi control during this period. The movie will leave you guessing as to the identity of the title character, and I was able to notice a certain similarity to LES DIABOLIQUES , which should come as no surprise, as Clouzot also directed that movie. All in all, a sad, powerful and fascinating film.

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