Skip to main content


France, 1983 (MIFF 1987)

Director: Andre Antoine

Realised in 1920, The Swallow And The Blue Tit is a silent film about love, treachery and smuggling among barge dwellers. "The Swallow" and "The Titmouse" are barges captained by Pieter Van Groot who, accompanied by his wife and her younger sister, traverse the canals of Belgium and France ferrying coal and construction material for areas devastated by World War I. On the side, Van Groot smuggles diamonds and his wife lays aside a cache of delicate Belgian lace.

The film turned out to be more of a documentary, which led the original distributor to think that it wasn't commercial enough. He demanded more action but director Andre Antoine refused. The cutting copy was lost but six hours of rushes were found a few years ago in the vaults of the Cinematheque. "In the midst of the debate about 'colourisation' of old films, it is a revelation to be reminded of just how eloquent some of those early black-and-white productions were." [San Francisco Chronicle 30/1/87). Henri Colpi, the French editor of Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Last Year At Marienbad, was commissioned to produce a final print.

See also...

Lullaby for Lakshmi

Director Helene Stork is a medical doctor specialisms in psychology This short documentary without dialogue was realised when she was researching the interactions between mothers and babies in a ... More »


"Life is a Novel"—Gothic novel, fairy tale and philosophical puzzle all in one seeming reputation of Napoleon's truism "la ... vie n'est pas un roman" (probably his version of "life wasn't ... More »


Akerman's Man With a Suitcase, starring herself, is an unexpected mixture of Chaplinesque comedy and poignant self-mockery. ... Returning home to write a film script and desperately needing the ... More »


Les Princes is an exceptional first feature by someone who never expected to be allowed to make a film. "I must thank the French system which makes an allocation of money on the basis of the script ... More »


For his first film in six years, Robert Bresson has been inspired by a short story by Leo Tolstoy, "The Counterfeit Note". When making a delivery of fuel oil, a young Parisian workman is given a fake ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director