Monday, November 14, 2022

24 Hours in the Life of a Clown


Written, narrated, and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown (24 Hours in the Life of a Clown) is a short film about the day in the life of a clown as he deals with his daily routine and other things including a new partner. Starring Louis Maiss and Beby. Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown is a compelling short film from Jean-Pierre Melville.

The film follows a day in the life of a clown who is first seen in the aftermath of a performance as he and his new partner remove their makeup and get ready to go back home. It is a film with a simple premise as it follows the clown known as Beby as he goes on his daily routine while dealing with the few things in his life he complains about. Along with his new partner in Maiss (Louis Maiss), the two figure out new things to bring into their act as they would go in the streets of Paris to watch whatever they can find. Jean-Pierre Melville’s direction is largely straightforward as he would do a lot the narration while would often shoot everything Beby does to prepare his performance in great detail as well as what Maiss would do whenever he’s not flirting with a female performer. A lot of Melville’s compositions are straightforward as the first and last shot of the film is at a carousel as it would pan into circus and vice versa for the end. Even with the wide shot of the actual performance that Beby and Maiss would create with a lot of medium shots being used for some of the intimate moments in the film.

Cinematographers Andre Villard and Gustave Raulet do brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography in maintaining a low-key yet natural look for the first and final shot of the film while using some stylish lighting for the scenes in the circus. Editor Monique Bonnot does excellent work with the editing as it is largely straightforward with a few rhythmic cuts to play into Beby’s work before his performance. The film’s music by Henri Cassel is amazing for its playful score for the circus performance while emphasizing on a somber piece for some of the dramatic moments. The fantastic performances of Beby and Louis Maiss are a joy to watch with the former being this clown who is dedicated to his art and the latter is a newcomer who respects the former while being aware of the collaborator he’s replaced.

Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown is a superb short film from Jean-Pierre Melville. It is a film worth seeking out for anyone who is interested in the works of Melville as it would play into his meticulous approach to detail as it would be a common theme in his later films. In the end, Vingt-quatre heures de la vie d’un clown is an excellent film from Jean-Pierre Melville.

Jean-Pierre Melville: Le silence de la mer - Les enfants terribles - (Quand tu liras cette letter) - Bob le flambeur - (Two Men in Manhattan) – (Leon Morin, Priest) – (Le Doulos) – Magnet of Doom - Le deuxieme souffle - Le Samourai - Army of Shadows - Le cercle rouge - (Un flic)

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