Figure 9.23

The Fine Art of Conformity

Tout est bien qui finit bien (Perseverance Rewarded)

Lucien Nonguet, Pathé-Frères, France, 1910

The illusion of depth fostered by the set underscores an elementary metaphor of distance: to fulfill their love, Max, who lives on the left side of the street, and the girl with whom he’s trying to connect, who lives directly across on the right, must overcome the obstacles that keep them apart (particularly his father and her mother). The film is also almost compulsive in its penchant for parallelism: the interior sets of the two houses are uncommonly isometric, as are the events that occur and the attitudes that are harbored in them. All of this incidental congruence, we should probably assume, owes something to habits of mindless middle-class conformism. (The French title, by the way, is roughly the equivalent of the English “All’s Well That Ends Well.”)

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