My Journey Through French Cinema

Veteran director Bertrand Tavernier (Life and Nothing But, It All Starts Today) presents a personal, epic history of the French cinema, just as Martin Scorsese did with Italian cinema in My Voyage to Italy (1999) and U.S. cinema in A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies (1995). Even at 200 minutes this is a pretty narrow journey, focusing almost exclusively on classical French cinema of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, but as with Scorsese, the reminiscences can flower into precise and passionate criticism. The great masters roll by—Jacques Becker, Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, Jean-Pierre Melville, who mentored Tavernier—but more distinctive and revealing are the fannish tributes to tough guys Jean Gabin and Eddie Constantine, innovative composers Maurice Jaubert and Joseph Kosma, and forgotten auteurs Edmond T. Gréville (Menaces) and Pierre Schoendoerffer (The 317th Platoon).