Marius (1931) and Character Acting

January 19, 2018

A clip from Marius (1931, dir. Alexander Korda), which, even if you don’t understand French, demonstrates the inestimable portrayal of character that radiates from the core ideas of the character’s (fictional) consciousness, not from external, laid-upon quirks. The language is almost like window dressing — one knows immediately the context and the meaning from the ideas expressed through the body.
In this clip, we see Marius (Pierre DeFresnay) tending bar, jealous. Fanny (Orane DeMazis), devoted since childhood, to the love of Marius. but seeing he is obsessed with the romance of going to sea, toys innocently with Panisse (Charpin), a widower, who wishes to marry her.
Whoever definitively averred that one can’t act ideas had no idea what he was talking about. What is acting, but the portrayal of ideas in human form?

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Wyntner Woody