L'Homme du large (1920)
aka: Man of the Sea
A film directed by Marcel L'Herbier

Genre: Drama


L'Homme du large photo
Off the coast of Brittany, Nolff earns his living as a fisherman, and hopes that his son Michel will follow in his footsteps. However, Michel has no such aspirations, preferring to spend his days and nights with his dissolute friends in the nearby town. When his mother dies, Michel steals some money left by her to his sister Dejenna. When he learns of this, Nolff seizes his son and casts him out to sea in an open boat, letting the sea cast its judgement...
© filmsdefrance.com 2012

Film Review

L'Homme du large, Marcel L'Herbier's first great film, offers an extraordinarily compelling portrayal of the forces of good and evil that motivate human behaviour. Whilst it does not have the huge epic scale of some of L'Herbier's subsequent films, it is nonetheless a masterwork of cinematic storytelling and uses a dazzling range of photographic techniques to hold the audience's attention.

The harsh Brittany coast provides an appropriate setting for this austere tale of filial betrayal and redemption. The alluringly beautiful but fearsome open sea emphasises the temperament of the fisherman Nolff, a simple solitary soul whose only wish is that his son becomes like him. Meanwhile, the scenes of wild debauchery in a town tavern (at one time censored for being too explicit) reveal the true nature of Nolff's wayward son, Michel. The narrative approach is simple but it is astonishingly effective, with moments of harrowing dramatic intensity gradually building to a genuinely poignant climax. In addition, the documentary-style filming of an Easter festival provides an illuminating record of Breton life in the early part of the Twentieth Century.

The historic importance of L'Homme du large is summed up Henri Langlois, founder of the cinématèque française, who described the film as the first example of "écriture cinématographique". It also marked the screen debut for famed French actor Charles Boyer. The film was recently restored (by Gaumont in 1998), complete with the original colour tints and decorated caption cards.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.

Where to watch this film

The film L'Homme du large may be available on amazon via the following links:
  • amazon.co.uk
  • amazon.fr
  • amazon.com

Similar films you may like

Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0

Film Credits

  • Director: Marcel L'Herbier
  • Script: Marcel L'Herbier, Honoré de Balzac (novel)
  • Photo: Georges Lucas
  • Cast: Jaque Catelain (Michel), Roger Karl (Nolff), Charles Boyer (Guenn la Taupe), Philippe Hériat (Le protecteur), Marcelle Pradot (Djenna), Claire Prélia (La mère de Michel et de Djenna), Claude Autant-Lara (Un des copains), Dimitri Dragomir (Un des copains), Suzanne Doris (Lia), Lili Samuel (La lesbienne), Georges Forois (Un pêcheur), Pâquerette (La tenancière), Jeanne Bérangère, André Daven, Jane Dolys, Marcel Rival
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Support: Black and White / Silent
  • Runtime: 85 min
  • Aka: Man of the Sea

Related Links

Here are some other pages that you may find helpful:
Buy/watch this movie:
Discover the best in French cinema:
Explore best French films by genre:

Classic films to rediscover

Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0

For books and DVDs

Visit our on-line stores to browse the latest films out on DVD and books relating to cinema. Any purchases will allow us to maintain and grow filmsdefrance.com.

Increase your knowledge of French cinema

Best of 0
Best of 1
Best of 2
Best of 3