The first movie dealing with l'Abbé Pierre and the best.A second movie was made in the eighties ("Hiver 54: L'Abbé Pierre" ) but I think that Darène's movie does the great man justice,in a more effective way.
André Reybaz ,who plays the leading part is completely unknown -at least of today's audience- and it's better that way ,because we can believe in his character:his commitment to his role is extraordinary.He is never preachy ;if you read the Gospels,he will remind you of Jesus ' words.Such is the man he portrays.Our Martin Luther King ,our Gandhi,only the fight is different : a fight -which continued till his recent death and is still going on with Les Compagnons D'Emmaus" - against poverty and hunger , a plea for the dignity of man,and this hand given to his homeless brothers .
To write that L'Abbé Pierre gave it all is to diminish the man,because there was always more to give,another open wound that demanded he raised his voice :"we've got nothing but we are going to do something that 's going to make those who own everything and do nothing feel ashamed of themselves !" More than in the color movie,this black and white one (which begins with a short speech by L'Abbé Pierre himself) goes straight to the heart :more than food or a home,what matters is what gives meaning to life and we do feel it during the whole movie.The director succeeds in making all his characters ,losers,ex-prisoners,tramps ,abandoned women with children,all endearing.We feel and care for everyone ,and we forget they are played by actors sometimes famous (Madeleine Robinson,Gaby Morlay,Pierre Trabaud...)
My two favorite scenes:
L'Abbé Pierre is completely broke ;he begs for some money in the streets to the tune of a Compagnon playing blues guitar ;in a café people are laughing;L'Abbé gives out leaflets about the plight of his fellow men ,but most of the people throw it on the ground. A young man whose mother was killed by her man is invited to a girl's birthday.He asks her mother to kiss him good night and he bursts into tears.
"Les Chiffonniers D'Emmaus" ,made fifty-six years go is still relevant in 2009 ,when it's really hard times in our French country.
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