- Number of Discs: 6
- Rated: Unrated
- Run Time: 13 hours, 38 minutes
- Video: Color
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Released: April 24, 2007
- Originally Released: 1971
- Label: Criterion
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Sight and Sound - 07/01/2007
"[The films] are indelibly marked with his open and engaging intellectual curiosity, warmth and generosity of spirit."
Though long renowned for fictional films that spanned a variety of subject matter and settings, director Louis Malle (AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS) also had an equally wide-ranging, though less acknowledged, career as a documentarian. THE DOCUMENTARIES OF LOUIS MALLE showcases these impressive and powerful documentaries, at last filling a pronounced gap in the oeuvre of this accomplished filmmaker. And though much has been made of Malle's diverse, or even fractured, output, this collection helps make manifest the common thread that ran throughout his work: a concern with daily life and the shaping influence of people and place.
Starting out this set are Malle's early French documentaries: VIVE LE TOUR, a look at the Tour de France; HUMAIN, TROP HUMAIN, an examination of the daily lives of French automobile-plant workers; and PLACE DE LA REPUBLIQUE, which focuses on a single street corner in Paris and the stream of people who flow through it. Then it's on to perhaps the most fascinating of these documentaries, the six-hour-long PHANTOM INDIA, originally shown as a miniseries for European television. In it, Malle presents the world of India in all its arresting beauty and heartbreaking squalor, grappling with the limits of his own abilities to present and understand a foreign culture. CALCUTTA, composed of footage shot while making PHANTOM INDIA, was deemed powerful enough to be a film of its own; indeed, it is an often harrowing examination of this city in shambles, under martial law, and nearing a terminal breaking point. Changing his focus to the United States, Malle's GOD'S COUNTRY first aired on PBS in 1979, begins as an affectionate portrait of well-to-do farmers in America's heartland. But when Malle returns in the late 1980s to finish the documentary he finds the town and its optimistic people devastated by a sinking economy. Eschewing agendas, Malle paints an honest portrait of life in the changed town. Finally, Malle explores the changing American immigrant experience in ...AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. A recent transplant to the U.S. himself, Malle captures the diverse lives and communities of the nation's new wave of immigrants.