"Un homme et Une Femme" (1966) by French director Claude Lelouch
“Un homme et Une Femme” , 1966, is starring Annouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant. It is one of the classics of the French movie industry and winner of best foreign movie from the Academy and the Grand Prix from Cannes Film festival.
Sometimes when ideas are simple and are about every day life of everyone they become more capturing and real and surprisingly of stronger impact than expected. Dating, love stories and missing old beloveds happen to everyone with no discrimination.
The movie is simply capturing the moment of second chances in the love lives of Aimee and Trintignant. Both of them have lost their partners. Aimee was so in love with her husband that she still talks about him as if he is alive. But because life is not about lingering in the past, it offers her a new chance by meeting Trintignant who is also a widow.
The music of “Un homme et Une Femme” by Francis Lai is the most famous in the 60’s era. Most of the Egyptian love movies borrowed the music. As an Egyptian I could immediately recognize it and feel that I am back to some scenes of the old Egyptian movies.
Annouk and Trintignant meet by chance after spending their Sunday with their children who are in the same board school. He offers her ride back to Paris. And here comes their first unplanned date. They share the car in a journey mixed with a talk about her past memories. She talked about her past as if it was her present. She was clinging too much to her past and living it as it had never passed. However, meeting Trintignant was about her new present and coming future. The scene leaves us in suspense about their availability. They seem single but Annouk is speaking about her deceased husband as if alive. Both of them are wearing rings. The suspense level is accentuated by the bad weather factor.
Interior scenes are black and white while external scenes are colored. My first interpretation for the black and white scenes is that they are made like the dreams. We are usually not very sure about the colors of our dreams. But to my surprise it was a budget issue, according to the director. The flip flopping between the black and white, and the colored scenes was made so precisely that you can never guess it is a budget issue. The fact that exterior scenes were in colors made me believe that the openness of life are usually the true colors of life while what we live in our interior self is only made by us thus defined by two colors because it is so limited. The continuous swinging between the white and black and colored scenes is so life-like. We keep living two lives; one that’s happening to us which we are sure and certain of and the other is uncertain because it did not happen yet. And this how the movie continues to unfold. And because we lived the past, we can define it. So, those past scenes were produced in the movie in colors.
Life is a journey. The first encounter in the movie between Aimee and Trintignant was in his car. He gave her a ride to Paris. Car travel scenes were stressed in the movie due to the fact that Trintignant was a car racer and tester. And I guess about the idea that life journeys have a destination that we decide to take when we receive a chance.
The movie brings the idea of women as memory creatures. Aimee keeps remembering her husband when Trintignant is not really recalling lots of memory scenes with his wife.
Trintignant is always confused and keeps thinking every time Aimee sends him a love gesture. She was the one who even took the initiative to say the “I love you” word. He ran to meet with her, traveling thousands of miles after a car race that he won. But all the way to Paris he was thinking constantly what he should do or tell her. The director made it clear how men can be so insecure to react when they fall in love.
A climax scene in the movie is when Aimee and Trintignant go on a date that ends in an hotel room. He realizes that he is the only one involved in the relationship. She is not entirely with him as she keeps remembering her husband while making love to him. She suddenly distances herself from him after the scene. The climax scene is so classical. It is about this angle of life that widens suddenly until it comes to a full circle when things become so meaningful and clear.
Clinging to the past as Aimee did could be a decision to deny the self a second chance in life and happiness. She accepted to live her present and share the happy future with Trintignant when she let the past pass.
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