FARREBIQUE (1946) [Feature]

France (MIFF 1958 , Programme 34)
Director: Georges Rouquier

Farrebique is the name of a farm in the Aveyron district in central France. The farm is worked by grandfather who owns it, his wife, their two sons, Roch and Henri, and Roch's wife Berthe with her growing number of children. Farrebique is the story of a year on the farm: the life of the family, the life of the animals, birds, the trees, of the very earth.

Like Flaherty, Rouquier did not merely visit his subjects, survey the scenery, then prepare his "treatment" of the film; he lived with the family for a year; he made friends with them &ndash: everyone got used to him, to the cameraman, the lights, the ever present camera; the result is a film which uncovers life. We see people organically interwoven with nature; flowering, growing, withering, dying; man as part of nature, and nature a major part of his life.

The film has a seasonal structure, is starts with autumn turning into winter and ends with autumn once more. The rhythm of the farm work is dictated by the seasons, so the story of the family is interspersed with lyrical sequences of pure seasonal observation. The characters of the various members of the family arc revealed gradually; grandfather will mellow into talk and reminisce about his Song years on the land: Roch inherits the farm and becomes a miser of property: Henri, the young one, is in love and dreams of electric light and Paris. We watch them go through their daily routine quite oblivious of the camera: Roch sets about the bread making ritual; grandmother warms her clogs, Bertha leads the family prayers; they all reveal themselves as they really are, stubborn, mean with an occasional flash of humour, a moment of mellowing sentiment.

Rouquier uses time-lapse photography to show tire passing of time; other times, photomicrographic sequences bring the pulse of springtime to the screen. Subtle editing of shots portraying Sowers, birds, people, insects, integrate on different planes the life of nature and the life of man. William Whitebait classed Farrebique as belonging "to the rare order of strictly memorable films."

The dialogue is spoken in a Brittany dialect of French and has no English translation, but this is not necessary.

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