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Julien Duvivier’s Romantic Illusions

From on-the-run crime dramas to swooning tales of love and loss, the films of French director Julien Duvivier marry beautiful camera work and an expressive, often poetic use of music and sounds. The dream sequence that opens the story in Un carnet de bal—in which a wealthy widow (played by the lovely Marie Bell) is overcome with nostalgia for the bygone romances of her youth—provides a perfect example. In the liner notes accompanying our release, longtime Criterion contributor Michael Koresky offers the following description of the scene:

“Duvivier . . . dissolves to a glittering ballroom of the past; we see a row of curtsying women in white, each grabbed by a partner and twirled away in rhapsodic slow motion. Adding to the scene’s eeriness, composer Maurice Jaubert had his musicians play the score backward, then reversed the recording. It’s a fitting first act for a film that depicts the past as a romantic illusion.”

Watch the entrancing scene in question below.

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