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Often compared to The Rules of the Game, Jean Grémillon's influential masterwork examines the uneasy and finally explosive interactions between a group of corrupt, high-society carousers and a crew of workers over a long weekend at a country manor.
"A masterpiece by the great, neglected Jean Grémillon" (Jonathan Rosenbaum). Film historians consider Lumière d'été perhaps the greatest French film of the Occupation, though it remains little known here. With its complex script by Jacques Prévert (Les Enfants du paradis), audacious soundtrack (which influenced Jean-Marie Straub) and stunning camerawork — not to mention the fact that it was suppressed by the Vichy regime for "counterproductive" attitudes and its lightly veiled attack on Vichy values — Grémillon's influential masterwork has often been compared to The Rules of the Game. Like Renoir's masterpiece, Lumière d'été focuses on the uneasy relationship between two classes in an isolated location: a group of corrupt rich people, including an imperious lord, an opera singer, an alcoholic painter and his girlfriend, who are sequestered in a chateau on the edge of a precipice; and a group of workers who are building a dam in the valley below. At a lavish costume ball, the class tensions explode. "Beautifully filmed and scripted, the film is surely one of Grémillon's most memorable" (James Travers).