Fr : version française / En: english version

mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

La zone

Georges Lacombe

25' silent film
© Les Films Charles Dullin

View this work in Les Chiffonniers exhibition

The work

After a sequence of stationary shots which show us the environment of the "zone" dwellers, Lacombe focuses on their daily activities and on their living conditions in a highly factual light. The "actors" willingly consent to the director's work, and he goes as far as showing us the birth of a romance. The simplicity of the game, the faces of the children and the apparent lack of concern of the protagonists arouses empathy in the viewer to which time has added a touch of nostalgia. The realism of the film is lightened by several poetic sequences such as the glass organ concert that fascinates a colorful young audience. The film ends with several shots of La Goulou who, mischievously, shows us the legs that once drew cheers from the Paris smart set before her decline.

The artist

Born in 1902 in Paris, Georges Lacombe began his cinematographic career as an assistant to René Clair in 1924. In 1928 he directed his first film La zone: au pays des chiffonniers, a silent film report of naturalist inspiration. A pioneer in talking pictures with René Clair, he assisted him on the first French talking picture Sous les toits de Paris with Albert Préjean, Mila Parély and Edmond T. Gréville. In 1931 he began his real career as a film maker/scriptwriter with his first feature-length film Un coup de telephone.

An unassuming film director, he produced some thirty films in which you will find everyone who was anyone in French cinema from the thirties to the sixties: Préjean, Edwige Feuillère, Claude Dauphin, Renée Saint-Cyr, Eric Von Stroheim, Michel Simon, Michèle Morgan, Bardot, Jean Gabin, Raimu, Fresnay and Alice Sapritch. Towards the end of his career, he made several films for television, before retiring to Nice. He died in Cannes on April 14, 1990.