With André Gide
France Before the New Wave • 1h 32m
Directed by Marc Allégret • Documentary • 1951 • 92 minutes
Nobel-prize-winning author, social justice crusader, anti-colonialist, adventure traveler, musician, and one-time Communist: André Gide was a larger-than-life character who dominated French letters from the turn of the 20th century to his death in 1951. Directed by Marc Allégret, with whom Gide traveled extensively in French Equatorial Africa, the recently restored WITH ANDRÉ GIDE was made in the year leading up to the writer’s death. Allégret begins by tracing Gide’s childhood and youth —the trauma of his father’s early death, the effects of his moralistic mother on his psyche, and the simultaneous development of his harsh, puritanical outlook with his growing infatuation with his cousin (and later wife), Madeleine Rondeaux. Gide’s puritanism eventually fell away, particularly during his African voyages. Using footage from his film TRAVELS IN THE CONGO, Allegret shows Gide’s humanistic side: his appreciation for the Africans he meets, and his determination to fight against their exploitation by colonial powers. What truly makes WITH ANDRÉ GIDE stand out though, is the intimacy of Gide’s unguarded conversations—many in his home—with friends including some of the literary greats of the day. He discusses the nature of juries, the interpretation of piano solos (with a slightly baffled young pianist), and the early days of the magazine La nouvelle revue française. And Allegret captures some delightful moments of Gide with his grandchildren. A highly personal portrait, WITH ANDRÉ GIDE presents a little-seen side of this literary and intellectual giant—a man driven by constant curiosity, and devotion to detail. As the film’s narration says, “The faculty of attention characterized Gide in every moment of his life. An attention that was applied to...