Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque
Directed by Jacques Richard
CLAUDE BERRI, CLAUDE CHABROL, LOTTE EISNER, PHILIPPE GARREL, JEAN-LUC GODARD,ALFRED HITCHCOCK, MARY MEERSON, ERIC ROHMER, FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT, JACK VALENTI, AND MANY MANY MORE.
A "first rate documentary" (NY Post) and "a memoir of a lost kingdom" (Village Voice), Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque celebrates the man who cultivated cinema's future by protecting its past. Langlois, in the words of grateful acolyte Jean-Luc Godard, "produced a way of seeing films" that inspired two generations of filmmakers and changed the medium itself.
For forty years, Henri Langlois presided over the Cinematheque Francaise with absolute commitment and unwavering passion. Beginning in 1936, Langloisi beg, borrow and steal hustling preserved the priceless treasures of an art form then still too new to be recognized as such. Through ad hoc screenings in Paris apartments, hallways and stairwells, the young Langlois shared his love for film art with the enthusiasm of an aesthetic epicure and the discerning appetite of a film gourmand. Under Nazi occupation, Langlois went underground, rescuing and secretly screening banned films under the noses of the SS. Through the halcyon 60's Langlois battled bureaucrats, championed auteurs and ushered in a new golden age of cinema where "life broke through the screen" and filmmaking and film-going merged into a single discipline.
Knitting together remarkable footage of Godard and Francois Truffaut defending the Cinematheque against a 1968 Paris riot squad, Langlois and Alfred Hitchcock sending-up the staid Legion D'honneur ceremony, and Langlois himself charismatically holding forth, Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque is itself a treasure trove. A "fascinating film" (New York Times), it captures Langlois' life, loves, triumphs, and tragedies with candor and enduring affection.
"A MOVIEGOER'S TREAT AND A CINEPHILE'S DELIGHT!"- Michael Wilmington, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
"...took seven years to make and is worth every moment." Ã¯Â¿Â½ Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES
"...One of the most important figures in the history of film and therefore in the history of 20th-century art." - A. O. Scott, NEW YORK TIMES
* * * 1/2
In beg-borrow-steal fashion, the founder of Paris' CinÃƒÂ©mathÃƒÂ¨que FranÃƒÂ§aise hid films (often purloined) whose negatives the Nazis had ordered destroyed. And through brilliant repertory programming, Langlois almost alone created "film culture" at a time when many studios couldn't have cared less. But this mentally/physically rumpled genius also was a weak administrator, and when official France canned him during the student riots of 1968, filmmaker titans such as FranÃƒÂ§ois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Chabrol (very good here in interviews) were so quick to rush to his defense that a bewildered Charles de Gaulle wondered just who this guy was. Cut down from its three-hour film-festival version, Phantom still runs more than two, which is what this great story takes.
Official selection Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival