“The Clockmaker” Blues

The French film The Clockmaker (1973) tells us that France in the Seventies is a country in which a loutish, abusive security officer is allowed to get away with the garbage he does.  As the picture opens, the somewhat political son of the tale’s main character, a clockmaker (Philippe Noiret), has murdered the security officer and fled.

The film was directed by Bertrand Tavernier and so is not without artistic merit.  Even so, it does not take the murder of the depraved man seriously enough, but more or less excuses it.  At heart it is a politically radical film, consistently distrustful of authority.  Based on a Georges Simenon novel, it was screenwritten by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, who, in their seventies at the time, should have known better.  It is a relatively simply but also foolish work.

Its counterculture attitudes could be appropriated for the sake of present-day people in America who are not exactly bending to the big Ideological Will.  Two or three years ago, Wisconsin police illegally raided the homes of certain conservatives (probably Scott Walker supporters) and confiscated their computers.  In a case involving the refusal to honor a same-sex marriage, any Christian defendant who did not show up in court would have a warrant sent out for his or her arrest.  The current Attorney General wishes to expand the seizure of property, before a trial, of suspected drug traffickers.  See what I mean?

 

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