The House in the Woods
(La Maison des bois)
"As beautiful as Renoir."Jacques Rivette
Pierre Doris, Jacqueline Dufranne, Agathe Nathanson, Henri Puff,
A commission from French television, the seven-episode miniseries The House in the Woods is one of Maurice Pialat's best-loved works. Set during WWI, the basic plot concerns daily life in a French village as experienced by a gamekeeper and his wife who take in children left abandoned in the war. Some children grow accustomed to their new surroundings; others never lose that look of sadness at having been abandoned. At times the war is very far away; at other times, it's right outside their door. The sharp characterizations and precise narration of the early episodes eventually give way to a looser, more improvisatory style, as if once Pialat has created this world he simply allows the audience to experience it. "If I had to choose the one film that best allows the viewer to penetrate into Maurice Pialat's universe, I would unhesitatingly choose The House in the Woods. This series happily combines a profound naturalism and a strange sense of fantasy, a liberty in its tone where hidden or manifested suffering alternates with an astonishing happiness to be alive" (Joel Magny, Cahiers du Cinema).