The First Man – September 16

If you followed my reviews last year you will know that I took it out on French films. I generally am not fan and have never been but this year may turn me around. I have already reviewed several very good French films including Le Havre, Rebellion and The Cardboard Village but the best by far was The First Man based on the final and unfinished novel of Albert Camus. Now you need to take into account that I have a doctorate in philosophy and that my focus was 20th century continental philosophy (you know… all those existentialists: like Sartre and Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty) but of course like many who did Arts and Science in the 60’s it was Albert Camus that we all read and loved. Camus’s great novel L’Etranger, was the ultimate nihilistic, anti-establishment, atheistic existentialist bible but, it was also his first novel and as he aged he matured and humanized and his latter novels like The Fall and this final one reveal a depth and intelligence about the human condition not equalled by many. This film is a wonderful recreation of the story. It tells the story of a man returning to Algeria, the home of his birth to learn more about his origins. Camus was born in Algeria himself at a time when North Africa and Algeria in particular were French colonies. So this is somewhat autobiographical. The protagonist in the novel and the film lost his father in World War I and in fact never knew him. The film uses flash backs to tell the story and moves between the past and present gently and intelligently. The acting is excellent and the insight into the colonial mind and situation is provided with sensitivity but does not pull its punches. I really loved this movie although it may not get the attention or distribution it deserves. A lovely film from the work of a great writer and philosopher.

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