Thoughts On: “Menilmontant” (1926)

There are certain films I love to watch the most in the late evening when all is quiet, the room is dim, and there’s a couple lit candles in the corner. (I have a slight mania for candles, and their glimmer adds hugely to the atmosphere of a Special Film Experience. Feel free to share in my quirk.) There’s an hour or so to while away until bedtime, a period of peace when your mind is free. And if it isn’t free, maybe a great film can give you an opportunity to let it rest and refresh itself while drinking in that hour or two’s worth of art.

One such piece of art that I like to save for an occasional Special Film Experience is a short masterpiece called Ménilmontant (1926). Maybe a few of you cinephiles recognize the name, since critic Pauline Kael said it was her favorite film. She explained that this obscure, 37-minute French silent directed by the little-known Dimitri Kirsanov had “a lyricism Chaplin could only dream of.” I’ll admit I watched it after reading Kael’s recommendation, and quickly realized that she was right. Continue reading