The Raven

February 20, 6:30 pm — Taylor Hall 203

The Raven / 1943 / Henri-Georges Clouzot / 92 min

Introduction: Raphaël Sigal (French, Amherst College)

Respondent: Osman Nemli (Philosophy, Vassar College)

One of the most influential films in the history of French cinema, Le Corbeau describes the breakdown of civic order in a small provincial town when a rash of poison pen letters spreads suspicion among the local citizens: adultery, theft, even murder—there is no limit to the allegations set forth in the anonymous letters signed with the mysterious image of a crow. Many of the accusations focus on Doctor Rémy Germain, a recent arrival who is known to help women facing unwanted pregnancies, but who is probably not alone in having a secret or two. Made under the German Occupation, Le Corbeau was a tremendous public success upon its release but its coal-black depiction of French life—and its not-so-subtle reference to the culture of denunciation under the Nazis—proved highly controversial after the Liberation. Clouzot was initially given a lifetime ban from filmmaking; it took several years for him to be reinstated and for Le Corbeau to be recognized as a masterpiece of mise-en-scène, mood, and moral complexity. In France, it remains the go-to reference whenever the veil is lifted on some ugliness simmering beneath the surface of an apparently tranquil community.


This Tournées Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment.

The festival is cosponsored by the Department of Film, the Women’s Studies Program, the Dean of Faculty and the VSA French Club.