Sylvie Et Le Fant Me; Sylvia And The Phantom

2728. SYLVIE ET LE FANTOME (Sylvia and The Phantom) (1944-France). With ODETTE JOYEUX, JACQUES TATI. This enchanting combination fantasy-fairy-tale-romantic comedy was made at a time when France was facing one of its darkest hours of the Second World War. The heroine of the piece is a young girl named Sylvia (nicely played by Odette Joyeux, who was a full twelve years older than her character). Sylvia is a sweetly innocent romantic who is in love with the portrait of a nobleman which hangs on a wall in her father’s castle. He is Alain de Francigny, at one time romantically involved with Sylvia’s grandmother. Unfortunately, Sylvia’s father has been forced to sell the painting. As it is carted away, a “phantom” steps out of it and onto the castle floor. He, of course, is the ghost of Alain de Francigny, and he goes about cavorting through the castle and unsettling its inhabitants. Meanwhile, Sylvia’s father wants to present “a pleasurable surprise” to his daughter. In order to accomplish this, he hires an actor to impersonate the ghost. The performer will represent a figure of Sylvia’s imagination for a few hours in her life. Also entering the story are two young men, one a suitor and the other a thief. Both also get to impersonate the ghost, just as the real apparition hovers over their shoulders! The result is at once a piece of sweet escapism and a life-affirming allegory about the beauty of innocence and the need for forthrightness in a world that is all too often cold and cruel. It also is a special treat to see the beloved French stage and screen comic/mime Jacques Tati in the role of the phantom. It’s his screen debut (in a feature film), before he became his alter ego: “Mr. Hulot.” In French with English subtitles. 98 minutes. Romantic Comedy