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One of the great undiscovered auteurs of postwar French cinema, Gérard Blain made his masterpiece with this Bresson-influenced story of a teenage boy desperately looking for love in all the wrong places in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War.
Initially known as an actor in Claude Chabrol's Le Beau Serge and Les Cousins (not to mention Howard Hawks' Hatari!), Gérard Blain is one of those great auteurs of French cinema who has yet to be truly discovered in North America. (Maurice Pialat has only recently emerged from that same cloud of obscurity.) Deeply indebted to Robert Bresson, whom Blain considered a spiritual father, Blain's films share the sensibilities of his idol rather than mimicking the ineffable Bressonian style. ("We live in an infected age; there is no faith, no morality, no higher sentiments," said Blain upon receiving a prize for his 1971 film Les Amis at Locarno. "Pleasure, sex, everything that appeals to our lowest instincts, rules. I have always been obsessed by this decline in values, and fundamentally, all my films are about the search to find them again.") Considered one of the great lost masterpieces of seventies French cinema, Un Enfant dans la foule takes place in France during the Nazi Occupation, where young Paul (César Chaveau), abandoned by his father, struggles to survive and yearns for affection and acceptance. Performing odd jobs for German soldiers and picking up men in the street, Paul drifts through the war, his emotional rootlessness blithely leading him from collaboration into the Resistance.
Thanks to Paul Blain.