A satire about the line between childhood and adulthood, this is an experimental film by Louis Malle, one of the main directors of the French new wave.
Zazie is going to Paris for two days with her mother. She dreams of seeing the Metro with her own eyes, and her mother is planning to leave the child in the care of her brother and spend time with her new lover. For Zazie, these two days will involve a whole host of adventures: she runs away from home, a street swindler buys her jeans, she climbs the Eiffel Tower, and she ends up performing in a real cabaret. But Paris is on strike and the workers refuse to open the Metro.
Zazie in the Metro is based on the eponymous novel by Raymond Queneau, which is constructed using wordplay and deceptive situations. The book was published in 1959, and a year later Louis Malle presented his marvellous adaptation of this experimental novel. This was only the director’s fourth film. In his collection of discussions with Philip French, he admits that he chose the work largely because of its complexity, in order to test his directorial abilities. On screen, Malle created a child’s fantasy world for Zazie. The rhythm of the film matches that of the movement of the main character. Some scenes were shot faster than usual and the people, cars, and objects in the shot suddenly begin to move more quickly. Paris of the 1960s becomes another character in the story. Striking and grandiose, it amazes Zazie, and the brilliantly shot spans of the Eiffel Tower turn the visit to it into an animated constructivist work. Malle includes in this two-day flow of events a reflection on the bitterness and brevity of life expressed in the language of a child’s spontaneity. The little girl with a funny fringe tells a chance acquaintance about the death of her father, and on returning home, when asked by her mother about what she did for two days she answers without thinking that she aged. The seconds separating childhood from youth passed, and Zazie did not get to see the Metro.
The film will be screened in French with Russian subtitles.
Zazie in the Metro
Director Louis Malle
France, 1960, 93 min., 16+