In Farrebique Georges Rouquier depicts the everyday life of a family of French farmers following the rhythm of the different seasons. This unique film evades the classic division between fiction and documentary, allowing the reality of details to thrive with a great sense of poetry. Despite many prizes (Grand Prix de la Critique internationale in Cannes 1946, Grand Prix du Cinéma français 1946, Médaille d'or in Venice 1948), the film was a forgotten masterpiece, brought back to the big screen thanks to a beautiful restoration by Les documents cinématographiques.
There is no lack of so-called realistic films about some insignificant event or other or some slice of life. There is no lack of peasant movies, either. Why is Farrebique labeled as the ugly duckling among them, then? In my opinion, this is due to Rouquier’s genius, to his ability, if you will, to stand an egg on one end. He has understood that verisimilitude had slowly taken the place of truth, that reality had slowly dissolved into realism. So he painfully undertook to rediscover reality, to return it to the light of day, to retrieve it naked from the drowning pool of art. (...) There is no story here, or very little, and there are no stars, no actors: only a reality that everyone, in the secrecy of his good or bad conscience, personally recognizes. “Look,” shouted the first viewers of the Lumière cinematograph as they pointed at the leaves on the trees, “look, they’re moving.” The cinema has come a long way since the heroic days when crowds were satisfied with the rough rendition of a branch quivering in the wind! And yet, after fifty years of cinematic realism and tremendous technical advances, nothing less than a little bit of genius was needed to give back to the public the simple and elementary joy that the fictionalized and dramatized cinema was no longer providing: that of recognition. (André Bazin)
The screening in STUK is organized by STUK and Courtisane, in collaboration with the Lieven Gevaert Centre and the Institute of Philosophy (KU Leuven).
(°1909 - 1989, Hérault, France)
Georges Rouquier was a French director and actor. He is mostly known for Farrebique (1947), his first feature length film. He subsequently directed a number of fiction films, and multiple educational films and documentaries amongst which S.O.S. Noronha (1957) and Biquefarre (1983). His working methods made him one of the precursors of direct cinema.