For many amateurs associated with cinema, a successful film need to be entertaining with too many sequences occurring with great speed. If such is the concept which defines 'cinema' and 'films' then it would not be incorrect to apply the concept of slowness to many films whose 'real action' come into being only when all the characters and their roles have been clearly defined. This is the case with "The Long Absence"/"Une Aussi Longue Absence" directed by Henri Colpi. Among its important awards one can mention two important recognitions-Palme d'Or award 1961 and Louis Delluc prize 1960.Nothing spectacular happens within the first thirty minutes of this film. However, what gets shown during this time duration has a direct bearing on this film's title. Henri Colpi has set his film during post 14th July ("Quatorze Juillet" parade) holiday season in a quiet Parisian suburb where very few cars can be seen on roads, people know each other quite well and meet regularly at the local bar to listen to music and radio while having a few drinks. This film's 'real action' takes shape when the woman bar owner meets a tramp. This meeting has fatal consequences for both people. For a film based on a real story involving people who lost their families and memories during the war, Italian actress Alida Valli is excellent in her role as the female bar owner who is too obsessed about the memory of her husband who was left to fend for himself during deportation. It is her immense love for her husband which persuades her to view the tramp as her late husband. Actor Georges Wilson portrays his role with utmost care to reveal a tramp who is conscientious to the core. He is the one who delineates himself as the master of his destiny in all situations whether it is about appearance, choice of music or dwelling. There are not so many films which feature mature themes like companionship, life, loss of memory, obsession and war. Henri Colpi's film is considered a classic as well as a masterpiece due to its perfect handling and treatment of these life affirming themes.
A woman thinks she recognizes her husband, disappeared after being arrested 16 years before and tortured by the Gestapo, before being deported into a camp. She patiently follows the homeless, amnesiac man, hoping to bring back his memories. A scar on his skull suggests he might have been lobotomized. She presses on. Overwhelmed of what is asked of him, the man runs away. Will he ever remember her?
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