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Restoring a Raunchy French Classic


Restoring a Raunchy French Classic


Summary

  • Un rêve plus long que la nuit: Colorful, absurd, R-rated fun.
  • Surreal French cinema masterpiece from 1976.
  • Brace yourself for raunchiness and hilarity.



What might happen if you were to inject avant-garde into a fairytale? Two words: Inflatable privates. And no, not to be confused with the ranking officer. Un rêve plus long que la nuit (1976) is surrealist French cinema at its raunchiest and finest, and it all started in the 1970s. No, this is not a brand-new movie, but rather a restoration of a classic, which recently screened at the first-ever Los Angeles Festival of Movies, sponsored by MUBI.


The feature film was preceded by a screening of a cute, thematically similar short film called Realms — though not similar at all in terms of the raunchiness that purposefully plagues Un rêve plus long que la nuit. The audience at LAFM was laughing uproariously during the outrageous third act, and some of us who were in attendance are perhaps still processing it all. Here’s a closer look at the film that was masterfully restored thanks to funding from none other than the fashion house known as Dior.

Un rêve plus long que la nuit

Un rêve plus long que la nuit

3.5/5

Release Date
December 8, 1976

Director
Niki De Saint Phalle

Cast
Laura Duke Condominas , Laurence Bourqui , Laurent Condomidas , Niki De Saint Phalle , Jean Tinguely

Runtime
95 Minutes

Writers
Niki De Saint Phalle

Pros

  • Adventurous, original story
  • Hilarious jokes unhindered by translation
  • Delightful costuming and sets
Cons

  • Bawdy humor won’t appeal to everyone


Dreamlike in Plot and Style


In Big (1988), the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks wakes up after his child self had wished to become an adult. Years earlier, Un rêve plus long que la nuit centered around a sweet young girl who wishes to become a grown-up. But instead of waking up in the same universe and mingling with the same gang around her, she embraces a dream world that ultimately transforms her into a beautiful royalty-like young woman who comes face to face with violence, sex, loud music, and more.

Renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle is responsible for this surrealist adventure that is not for the faint of heart. Brace yourselves for some R-rated raunchiness as the grown-up Camélia navigates a brothel later in her odyssey of sorts. But in the first act, it’s all a bit misleading and innocuous, as we see the young Camélia (Laurence Bourqui) getting tucked in at night and living a seemingly peaceful existence. But a child’s mind often wanders, doesn’t it? In a glorious 4K restoration, colors pop off the screen as she soon wakes up in a fantasy world where a mischievous little dwarf leads her into seemingly uncharted worlds.


The young Camélia grows adultlike in the blink of an eye, and she’s soon played with a certain majesty by Laura Duke Condominas, who happened to be on-hand at the recent LAFM screening to share more about her experience on the film in a Q&A after the credits rolled. She spoke to the audience about one picturesque, sunset-laced scene she was particularly fond of, and her character experiences quite the journey in order for the story to reach such beautiful heights.

What does it all mean, along the way? Well, Sigmund Freud would have a field day, for one thing. And with other movies like The First Omen hitting the masses, it’s refreshing to see a movie like Un rêve plus long que la nuit restored, as it similarly explores themes of women’s independence — especially in times of war, as you’ll see in the way this absurdist fairytale that plays out.


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Surrealism Aplenty at LAFM

Battle scene in Un rêve plus long que la nuit (1976)
Film Desk

Why “absurdist,” you ask? Well, watch out for a hilarious sequence involving a degenerate salesman who breaks into a noisy factory that Camélia also happens to have wandered into. The salesman bows before a fascist general — literally calling him “Fascist General” repeatedly — and dumps his spread of items for sale before him.

It’s nothing but dead animals, and the salesman keeps pleading, “Buy death from me!” This outrageous sequence (which is impossible to do justice without simply seeing it for yourself) is also noteworthy because it’s captured with rickety handheld camerawork, a stylistic choice that was perhaps ahead of its time for a 1970s film (even for French cinema, amid the New Wave and all).


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As mentioned earlier, the packed LAFM audience was certainly eased into the surrealist nature of the French film with a short film screened right beforehand. Realms is the fifth collaboration between director Maximilla Lukacs and designer Samantha Pleet, and their workflow certainly seems to be working. Realms is short and sweet, with the beginning and ending credits running perhaps longer than the actual film itself.

It’s a fairytale, just like Un rêve plus long que la nui, and brings us into a fantastically colorful world where flowers and plants come to life thanks to dazzling costumes and masterful puppetry. We were thus more than primed and ready for the avant-garde feature that soon followed, with equally dazzling colors and thought-provoking sequences that often lacked dialogue to thrilling effect. When the dialogue hits it’s relentlessly comedic stuff that often leaps from innocent to wildly inappropriate at any given moment.


Un rêve plus long que la nuit is not the most accessible of films and perhaps shouldn’t be dared by commercial cinema fans. But for the rest of you cinephiles out there, keep an eye out for future screenings and opportunities to check out this unique achievement.

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