I was recently asked to recommend a documentary, and the first that came to mind was Louis Malle's "Place de la République" (1974), the the rest of Malle's and my recommendation was to screen them all! In fact, I found the idea so appealing that secided to follow it up myself and see all of his documentaries one more time in no specific or chronological order and as I do, write my thought about each film. Here's the first!
"Place de la République" Is deeply thought-provoking piece that examines the complexities of the society we live in. The film takes place in the heart of Paris, at the Place de la République, where people from all walks of life gather to express their views and perspectives on various social and political issues.
Through interviews with people from diverse backgrounds, including immigrant communities, political activists, and the working class, Malle captures the raw emotions, frustrations, and hopes of ordinary people. He masterfully weaves together their stories, presenting a nuanced view of the society we live in, highlighting the various injustices and power imbalances that exist.
One of the most poignant aspects of the film is its straightforward and raw depiction of the harsh realities of the world, particularly the struggle of those who are marginalized. The film does not sugarcoat the issues, nor does it provide easy solutions to the problems discussed. Instead, it invites the viewer to engage in a critical examination of our society, to question our beliefs and actions, and to seek ways to affect change.
Overall, "Place de la République" is a must-see documentary film for anyone interested in exploring the human condition and the complexities of the modern world. Malle's approach is sincere, honest, and deeply empathetic, inviting the viewer to share in the experiences of those featured in the film. It is a powerful and illuminating work that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who watches it.
About Louis Malle
From Criterion's Site | Crime dramas, comedies, romances, tragedies, fantasies, documentaries, and, of course, coming-of-age stories—director Louis Malle did it all. This most unpredictable and eclectic of filmmakers enriched cinema over a nearly forty-year career that took him from Jacques Cousteau’s watery depths (his first film was the Cousteau-codirected Oscar winner The Silent World) to the peripheries of the French New Wave (Zazie dans le métro, The Fire Within) to the vanguard of American moviemaking (My Dinner with André). Malle had an intellectually curious nature that led him to approach film from a variety of angles; he was as comfortable making minimalist works like the wordless Humain trop humain and the talky André as phantasmagorical ones like Black Moon. He is probably best known, though, for his deeply personal films about the terrors and confusions of childhood, such as Murmur of the Heart and Au revoir les enfants. Perhaps not as well-known is his parallel career as a master of the nonfiction form—one of his many documentary achievements was the seven-part Phantom India,which would be a stunning career centerpiece for anyone else; for this director, it was simply a fascinating side project. Malle died in 1995, shortly after directing his final film, the typically experimental Vanya on 42nd Street.