La tete contre les murs (Head Against the Wall). 1959. France. Directed by Georges Franju. Screenplay by Jean-Pierre Mocky, Jean-Charles Pichon. With Pierre Brasseur, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Mocky. In French; English subtitles. 95 min.
Jean-Pierre Mocky had written the script for this film with the intention of directing it, but was instead passed over for the more experienced Georges Franju. Principally set in a psychiatric hospital, this astonishing rediscovery is unbridled in attacking all forms of bourgeois propriety, the filmmaking itself both vigorous and desperate. The “lunatics” played by Mocky, Anouk Aimée, and Charles Aznavour are a foil for the more classical performances of Pierre Brasseur and Paul Meurisse as their doctors. Courtesy Les Acacias
Regard sur la folie (A Look at Madness). 1962. France. Directed by Mario Ruspoli. DCP. In French; English subtitles.
La Fête prisonnière (Captive Feast). 1962. France. Directed by Mario Ruspoli. DCP. In French; English subtitles. 50 min.
Mario Ruspoli has never gotten his due as a uniquely talented documentary filmmaker, inventive in his aesthetic approach to social ills. This is particularly true of these two short films, which Ruspoli made back to back. As he observes the doctors and patients of a psychiatric hospital in central France, Ruspoli preserves the dignity and integrity of the so-called “lunatics”—rare for the time—even as he depicts the sincere thoughtfulness of the doctors trying to heal them through new methods. Michel Braut, the direct cinema documentarian from Quebec, shot the films using a recently developed light 16mm camera that would revolutionize modern cinema. Courtesy Metrograph Pictures