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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Le Corbeau is directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot and co-written by Clouzot and Henri Chavance. It stars Pierre Fresnay, Ginette Leclerc, Pierre Larquey and Micheline Francey. Music is by Tony Aubin and cinematography by Nicolas Hayer.

We are in a small French town, the actual name of which is not known and is inconsequential. A series of poison pen letters are being sent out to the town dignitaries, accusing them of all sorts of inappropriate operations. The letters are signed by someone calling themselves Le Corbeau (The Raven), and pretty soon the town starts to implode as suspicion and mistrust runs wild.

Famously it was the film that saw Clouzot banned from making films, the then young director receiving flak from all quarters of the Vichy Government - Catholic Church - Left Wingers and others too! The asides to the Nazi occupation of France at the time not being acknowledged until some years later. That very theme obviously holds considerable weight, but it's not the be all and end all of Clouzot's magnificent movie.

Clouzot and Chavance tap into the troubling fallibility of the human race, portraying a town quickly submerged in moral decay. There is caustic observations on the higher echelons of society, a clinical deconstruction of a town quick to cast aspersions without thinking of consequences, while the script boasts frank intelligence and no fear of censorship. That a town so ripe in respected denizens could become so diseased, so quickly, makes for powerful viewing. All are guilty as well, nobody escapes, even the youngsters are liars or cheats, thieves or rumour spreaders, this be a Hades town where negativity runs rife and leads to broken bodies, broken souls and broken human spirits.

Very much a bastion of proto-noir cinema, it's photographed with an awareness to marry up to the acerbic thematic at work. Shadows feature prominently, even in daylight, canted angles are used to great effect, broken mirrors perfectly imbuing the fractures of the human psyche. A number of scenes are startlingly memorable, a funeral procession and a church service interrupted by one of The Raven's letters are superbly staged, the pursuit of a nurse through the cobbled streets is menacing, and the finale is hauntingly raw. Top performances across the board from the cast brings further rewards, whilst simultaneously adding more plaudits to Clouzot's direction. All in all, a remarkable, fascinating and potent piece of cinema. 9/10
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
'Le Corbeau' aka 'The Raven' is a surprisingly vivid piece of film-making, a wonderfully cinematic dissection of a town torn apart by the poison-pen letters of 'The Raven.' The initial balance of power that maintains the status quo (A knows B's indiscretion, B knows A's, so neither can destroy the other without disgracing himself) is soon destroyed as the whole town learns each other's dirty linen, with suspicions, half-truths and outright lies soon lead to the town turning on each other in the search for a scapegoat. Tragedy, suicide and murder inevitably follow...
This, of course, was the film that earned Clouzot a lasting reputation as a collaborator - made for the infamous German Continental films, it was attacked by both the Nazis for discouraging the French from informing (their main source of information during the occupation) and the resistance for attacking the French moral character. Of the two, it's pretty obvious the Nazis were on the right track. Even though the Germans are conspicuous by their absence, it makes clear that the anonymous informer/s are undermining solidarity and making the town easy prey for predators (it is implicit in the film that the Raven is not the only poison-pen writer in the town as a veritable flock of Ravens emerge).
The suspense comes not from the Raven's identity, which is blindingly obvious in this era of double-endings but must have seemed groundbreaking at the time, but from what damage the Raven will do next. Blessed with a surprisingly unlikable hero and a frankness lacking in US and British films of the period - abortion and drug-addiction are discussed as readily as adultery and embezzlement - there is a somewhat awkward Catholic moral imposed at the end (the good doctor learns it is better to let a mother die in childbirth to save the child than vice versa because the future is more important than the past) but it's still refreshingly dark. The script establishes character, setting and guilty secrets with remarkable economy and the film is blessed with a great use of location and some visually impressive set pieces: the funeral where people step around a letter left by the Raven before a child picks it up or the huge church silenced by a single letter fluttering down from the gallery are particularly striking. It also has a biting black wit and an interesting discussion about the interdependent nature of good and evil.
A genuine masterpiece, and entertaining with it, this UK DVD offers little in the way of extras (the R1 Criterion DVD boasts an interesting 18-minute interview with Bertran Tavernier on Continental and Clouzot and an interesting extract from a French documentary with Clouzot and others talking about the film and French cinema during the Nazi occupation), but the film is so good is still well worth investing in a copy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 April 2012
An odd but tremendously potent mix of a 'quiet' non-violent but very
tense noir thriller, a deeply dark humored, sometimes blackly comic
look at human nature, and a political tale of moral hypocrisy in a
small town.

By the end I was riveted, moved and provoked.

I was even more impressed when I learned more about the history of the
film. Made while France was under occupation by the Nazis, the theme of
neighbor turning against neighbor takes on an even deeper and more
chilling context.

A film with no hero and many villains, it is challenging, well acted
and physically beautiful.

How sadly ironic that film-maker Clouzot was castigated after the war
for being a Nazi collaborator for making the film under the thumb of
the Nazis (who, of course, controlled the French film industry at the
time), when this is about as clearly an anti-collaborationist film as
one could imagine.

This is truly subversive cinema at its finest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Le Corbeau," ("The Raven"), (1943),is a dark, black and white suspense film, a classic of French cinema, made by that master of the thriller Henri-Georges Clouzot, known worldwide for the two thrillers he made later,Les Diaboliques [Dual Format Edition DVD + Blu-Ray], and Wages of Fear [DVD]. And, remarkably enough, it was made during the World War II German occupation of France, under the Vichy regime, when all French films were supposed to be light, dreamy and uplifting. THE RAVEN, a tight 91 minute crime drama/mystery, was anything but, controversial from its release. Some French hated it, considered it treasonous in wartime because of the bad light into which it threw the country's bourgeoisie. But it also delivers a strong anti-informer message; so the right wing Vichy government hated it, too. Not because a single German was shown doing anything bad; there's not a German to be seen in this film. But because the occupying Germans got most of their information from informants.

A French provincial town, in the occupied sector, is driven into a frenzy of recrimination via a series of anonymous, cryptic and damning poison pen letters sent by "Le Corbeau," "The Raven." The suspicion and hard feelings hidden by the residents of the town, beneath the community's surface, are exposed, to the detriment of all. The Raven's principal target is an aloof village doctor, le docteur Remy Germain, who is played by Pierre Fresnay, (CESAR [DVD] 1936 ~ Raimu ~ Pierre Fresnay ~ Orane Damazis [Region 2 Import],Marius [DVD] 1931 [Region 2 Import] Raimu, Pierre Fresnay, Marcel Pagnol), then a big French theatrical star. He is carrying on some joyless sexual affairs, one with the town school master's crippled, spinster, promiscuous sister, Denise Saillens, played by Ginette Leclerc; and one with Laura Vorzet, played by Micheline Francey, the beautiful, much younger wife of one of the town's most prominent citizens, the psychiatrist Michel Vorzet (Pierre Larquay). And Dr. Germain will do abortions. The film also treats drug addiction in a matter of fact way, obviously making it a target of the religious Catholic, and the right wing. Residents of the village are unable to guess the identity of the Raven for the longest time, though current-day readers should have no trouble doing so; at one point the townsmen suspect Laura's sister, Marie Corbin, a waspish hospital nurse, played by Helena Manson.

The film boasts some remarkable, moody work with shadows throughout. And a few knockout suspenseful scenes: one of Nurse Corbin fleeing through the town as she attempts to evade arrest. And one of the funeral of one of the Raven's victims, a suicide: the Raven has placed a letter in one of the floral arrangements, and no villager will pick it up, until a child finally does. And another of a letter floating down from the balcony during a mass, in which the priest has attacked the misdeeds of the townsfolk as exposed by the Raven. Once again, no one will touch the letter for the longest time: the congregants hardly breathe. However, I admit to some difficulty in following the film, perhaps because I was seeing something on the small screen that was meant for the large; perhaps because I am not a member of the contemporaneous French film-going audience, who might recognize the stars. At any rate, the film gives us four old women, when only one is needed, and countless town officials in suits, so that I could not recognize many characters: Clouzot must have given every unemployed French actor work. Mind you, I could recognize the principal four women and three men. But in this regard, the film is nothing like the director's later works, DIABOLIQUE and WAGES OF FEAR, which have only a small number of principal characters and are easily followed. The director must have learned from his feedback as he went along. I also had great difficulty with the most potentially interesting of the special features, an interview with Bertrand Tavernier,(Coup De Torchon [DVD],D'Artagnan's Daughter [DVD]) a fine French director. Not only is he speaking heavily-French accented English; I also think he might have suffered a stroke prior to this interview. He was very hard to understand, and I couldn't catch most of what he said: I wish there had been subtitles.

However, I could make out the gist of Tavernier's argument. After the war, Clouzot was considered a German collaborator, because he made this picture for a company called Continental Films that had German, as well as French money, involved. He was initially barred by the French government from ever making films again. However, such outstanding French cultural figures as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir wrote in his defense, pointing out his important anti-informer message in wartime. The suspension was eventually made for only two years, enabling Clouzot to give us his great later films. Well, I did have some difficulty with this film, but it's worth a look as one of the director's influential early works, with his characteristic misanthropy, and wit, and a focus on the interdependency of good and evil.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Le Corbeau aka The Raven is a surprisingly vivid piece of film-making, a wonderfully cinematic dissection of a town torn apart by the poison-pen letters of 'The Raven.' The initial balance of power that maintains the status quo (A knows B's indiscretion, B knows A's, so neither can destroy the other without disgracing himself) is soon destroyed as the whole town learns each other's dirty linen, with suspicions, half-truths and outright lies soon lead to the town turning on each other in the search for a scapegoat. Tragedy, suicide and murder inevitably follow...

This, of course, was the film that earned Clouzot a lasting reputation as a collaborator - made for the infamous German Continental films, it was attacked by both the Nazis for discouraging the French from informing (their main source of information during the occupation) and the resistance for attacking the French moral character. Of the two, it's pretty obvious the Nazis were on the right track. Even though the Germans are conspicuous by their absence, it makes clear that the anonymous informer/s are undermining solidarity and making the town easy prey for predators (it is implicit in the film that the Raven is not the only poison-pen writer in the town as a veritable flock of Ravens emerge).

The suspense comes not from the Raven's identity, which is blindingly obvious in this era of double-endings but must have seemed groundbreaking at the time, but from what damage the Raven will do next. Blessed with a surprisingly unlikable hero and a frankness lacking in US and British films of the period - abortion and drug-addiction are discussed as readily as adultery and embezzlement - there is a somewhat awkward Catholic moral imposed at the end (the good doctor learns it is better to let a mother die in childbirth to save the child than vice versa because the future is more important than the past) but it's still refreshingly dark. The script establishes character, setting and guilty secrets with remarkable economy and the film is blessed with a great use of location and some visually impressive set pieces: the funeral where people step around a letter left by the Raven before a child picks it up or the huge church silenced by a single letter fluttering down from the gallery are particularly striking. It also has a biting black wit and an interesting discussion about the interdependent nature of good and evil.

A genuine masterpiece, and entertaining with it, Criterion's NTSC DVD boasts exceptionally good print quality - sharp and clear - with an interesting 18-minute interview with Bertrand Tavernier on Continental and Clouzot and an interesting extract from a French documentary with Clouzot and others talking about the film and French cinema during the Nazi occupation.
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That this 1943 film, written and directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (based on a scenario by Louis Chavance), should have proved controversial is hardly surprising. Not only does Le Corbeau’s dark tale of the disruption caused by a rash of poison pen letters (authored by 'Le Corbeau’ – The Raven) in a quiet rural town have potential implications of more generic informing/collaboration (which initially got the film banned in its home country), but it also provides an early example of Clouzot exploring his recurring (pessimistic) themes of amorality, duplicity and corruption (even of youth) – themes that would almost certainly have fallen foul (to a greater degree) of the censor in other jurisdictions (the US, UK, etc). Le Corbeau also demonstrates Clouzot’s (and cinematographer Nicolas Hayer’s) perceptive eye for (particularly macabre, noir-like) cinematic detail, drawing comparisons with Hitchcock.

Indeed, Le Corbeau’s deceptively idyllic rural beginnings are soon cast aside and we are plunged into a murky world of mistrust and suspicion in which the anonymous missives cast doubt over the reputation (and past history) of Pierre Fresnay’s officious, uptight Doctor Remy Germain. Clouzot’s film really is (for its time) unusually explicit as razors are brandished, Helena Manson’s broody nurse Marie Corbin stalks the hospital corridors, Germain’s apparent affairs with Micheline Francey’s reserved Laura and Ginette Leclerc’s sultry femme fatale, Denise, are revealed, and Liliane Maigné’s 14-year old schoolgirl, Rolande, voyeuristically witnesses the nefarious goings-on. Cynicism (often darkly comic) is also the order of the day as portrayed via Pierre Larquey’s outstanding turn as the psychiatrist and 'ironic philosopher’ (and Laura’s elderly husband), Dr Michel Vorzet, who 'monitors the town’s temperature’ on a graph(!) and ridicules the pervading influence in the town of Catholicism ('Are you a believer? Better to be safe than sorry!’). And, as the scope (and number) of accusatory letters increases and the town’s paranoia is ramped up, Le Corbeau makes some (still) pertinent points around public witch-hunts and corporate PR and corruption.

Looks-wise, Clouzot’s film makes great use of cinematic devices (keyholes, shadows, broken mirror, winding watch, swinging lamp, etc) as well as featuring some great visual set-pieces (the funeral sequence and treading on the latest letter, the marathon ‘handwriting test’ and the 'Hitchcockian moment’ as a letter floats down from church rafters onto the congregation). Le Corbeau is a film whose themes and style Clouzot developed to (arguably) even greater effect in Les Diaboliques, but for its embryonic brilliance and sheer audacity I think it worthy of a top rating.
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This film was produced by Continental Films, which was controlled
by Dr.Goebbels Propaganda Ministry.
In 1943, in the midst of the most destructive war in recorded human history,
the Germans were clever enough to let the precocious talent of director
Henri-Georges Clouzot thrive in their poisonous garden.
This is a grim, nihilistic and deeply misanthropic masterpiece,
replete with hidden, shattering symbolism.
There's none of the playful banter of Clouzot's remarkable previous film:
THE MURDERER LIVES AT 21 [L'ASSASSIN HABITE AU 21] (Masters of Cinema) (DVD)
In the opening shot, we descend from above a quaint French town
into the cemetery. We wander through the tombstones, and we exit through
the gates of the cemetery into the world of the dead-the morally dead.
Then we are introduced to the protagonist, Dr. Germain, who has just
performed another abortion. Like a latter day Pontius Pilate,
he washes his bloody hands, from the collective guilt of French collaboration
with the German occupation.
Later in the film, an oscillating light bulb shifts light and shadows
over tense faces and a classroom globe. This, according to elderly professor
of Psychology Vorzet, is the relative nature of good and evil.
Finally, Dr. Germain exclaims: "Evil is necessary!".
In other words, if you are corrupt, and rotten to the core,
then you deserve nothing better than German subjugation and domination.
In Southern Europe, these dark days, we hear again this terrible argument,
from the lips of establishment figures.
This Optimum Release DVD is anything but optimum. Image quality is mediocre.
The introduction to the film by film critic Ginette Vincendeau is
not accessible to handicapped people, because it isn't subtitled in
English SDH. The DVD includes the trailers of the following French films:
Pepe Le Moko, Plein Soleil and Wages of Fear
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 April 2012
An odd but tremendously potent mix of a 'quiet' non-violent but very
tense noir thriller, a deeply dark humored, sometimes blackly comic
look at human nature, and a political tale of moral hypocrisy in a
small town.

By the end I was riveted, moved and provoked.

I was even more impressed when I learned more about the history of the
film. Made while France was under occupation by the Nazis, the theme of
neighbor turning against neighbor takes on an even deeper and more
chilling context.

A film with no hero and many villains, it is challenging, well acted
and physically beautiful.

How sadly ironic that film-maker Clouzot was castigated after the war
for being a Nazi collaborator for making the film under the thumb of
the Nazis (who, of course, controlled the French film industry at the
time), when this is about as clearly an anti-collaborationist film as
one could imagine.

This is truly subversive cinema at its finest.
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on 8 March 2013
Filmed during the Nazi Occupation this is a tense thriller set in a small provincial town plagued by a series of poison pen letters that set the townsfolk at each others throats. Well plotted and builds nicely to a satisfying climax. Ginette Leclerc is well cast as the local sexpot tempting the town doctor played by Pierre Fresnay.
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on 8 February 2014
DVD EDITIONS THAT DON'T IMPRESS US SO MUCH. I DON'T MEAN THEY AIN'T GOOD, JUST DESERVES BETTER STANDARDS, NOT ONLY USE BLURAY DISCS OR FULL-TACKED DVDS, WE SOMETIMES NEED MORE SINCERITY. I RECOMMEND CRITERION OOP EDITIONS, IT MAY HAVE CROPPED THE IMAGE A LITTLE, BUT WITH MORE PRECIOUS EXTRAS.
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