La Nuit fantastique

Love triumphs over reality in Marcel L'Herbier's tribute to the unconscious-and to movie magic. La Nuit fantastique takes place in the mind of a worker, Fernand Gravey, who falls asleep and meets the woman of his dreams, Micheline Presle. This is a screwball's idea of a dream woman: she has the directed giddiness of a heroine who, if trapped in a man's dream, is determined to at least select the man. With its papier-mâché sets and foggy nocturnal dreamscapes, the film harks back to the magic of Méliès and to the twenties avant-garde, while it leaps about (lightly) on several touchy subjects for 1942: fear of imprisonment comes up in its images, and the question of who is mad and who is sane is asked repeatedly. La Nuit fantastique celebrates the potential of the director/magician to offset spiritual starvation with the richness of “our daily dream.”

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