Friday, July 10, 2020

“La Petite Dorrit” or the cause of the humble

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Among the gifts offered to us by the world of culture, there is one particularly warm from the INA. In these times of confinement due to Covid-19, its new platform for consulting its archives (Madelen) is accessible free of charge for three months. And there are nuggets there.

So from Youth Theater which brought together the whole family on Sunday afternoon, between 1960 and 1969. It included, often discovered, classics of French (in particular the Comtesse de Ségur) or foreign (starting with Charles Dickens) literature. We regularly met exceptional performers, confirmed as Denise Gence or Michel Galabru or beginners, from Patrick Dewaere to Victor Lanoux.

Permanent Quest for Money

In our current “seclusion”, Little Dorrit (1), adaptation of the famous – but little read – novel by Charles Dickens, will touch us in more ways than one. The intrigue of this soap opera published from 1855 to 1857 is largely to be found in the Maréchaussée, a London prison where the impecunious were imprisoned.

→ READ. Madelen: the new INA platform launched at the right time

Admittedly, she was pruned here of episodes and characters: Father Dorrit is weak and the strange Flora reduced to the role of a dry rival while his sweet madness and his whimsical logorrhea illuminate the novel.

There remains the observation of the psychological ravages of a permanent quest for money, whether we have it or not. Also appear all the ambiguities of the state of confinement which keeps distant, but also protects, from the outside world.

Exceptional actors

Everything is refocused around the couple of young firsts – Bernard Verley embodies Arthur Clennam, an awkward businessman – exposed to the maneuvers of a trio of perfect villains: nothing less than Françoise Rosay in Mrs Clennam, rascal woman raging with remorse, Jean-Roger Caussimon in Jérémy Flintwinch, unscrupulous schemer, and François Chaumette, alias Rigaud-Blandois, blackmailer who affects dandyism. Like a fascinating little cousin of Vautrin.

What does it matter then that the adaptation shows the signs of aging (the image sometimes flinches or marks with marbling) and that some awkwardnesses escape from a live take, including small snags in very literary dialogues . And, if you were a teenager in those years, emotion can only hold you and regret seize you of those moments when television spares meetings animated by the sensitivity of Claude Santelli.

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