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La bête humaine : an examination of the problems inherent in the process of adaptation from novel to.. 1987

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LA BETE HUMAINE AN EXAMINATION OF THE PROBLEMS INHERENT IN THE PROCESS OF ADAPTATION FROM NOVEL TO FILM By BARBARA IRENE WRIGHT B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f L e i c e s t e r , 1981 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November 1987 © Barbara Irene Wright, 1987 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements f o r an advanced degree a t the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and study. I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head o f my department or by h i s o r her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood t h a t copying o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department of FRENCH The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date 4TH SEPTEMBER 1987 DE-6 r v a - n A b s t r a c t In t h i s t h e s i s the process of a d a p t a t i o n from novel to f i l m i s examined. La Bgte humaine by Emile Z o l a and the f i l m v e r s i o n by Jean Renoir p r o v i d e s p e c i f i c examples. The s t a r t i n g p o i n t i s the assumption, o f t e n made by cinema audiences, t h a t the f i l m should be " f a i t h f u l " to the novel upon which i t i s based. A statement made by Renoir r e g a r d i n g h i s e f f o r t s to be t r u e to what he d e s c r i b e s as the " s p i r i t o f the book" i s quoted to i l l u s t r a t e the prevalence of t h i s a t t i t u d e . Novel and f i l m are then compared i n order to t e s t Renoir's c l a i m to f i d e l i t y . What i s r e v e a l e d are the d i f f e r e n c e s between the two. Through an examination of c h a r a c t e r , a c t i o n , and space some of the reasons f o r the d i r e c t o r ' s departure from the novel begin to emerge and i t becomes i n c r e a s i n g l y c l e a r t h a t Renoir was o b l i g e d to adopt a d i f f e r e n t approach. Theme and form are then examined and the o r g a n i c nature of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p suggested. F i n a l l y , the departure o f the f i l m from the novel i s t r a c e d to the very d i f f e r e n t ways i n which the two media f u n c t i o n — l i n e a r i t y i n the w r i t t e n medium as opposed to s i m u l t a n e i t y i n the c i n e m a t i c medium — and the i n d e l i b l e nature of the a s s o c i a t i o n of theme and form i s confirmed. In c o n c l u s i o n , the view t h a t the media should and do correspond i s found to be mistaken, and Renoir's statement i s r e - e v a l u a t e d and assessed as an attempt, by a d i r e c t o r s e n s i t i v e to the p u b l i c ' s i n s i s t e n c e on f i d e l i t y , to disarm c r i t i c i s m . Table of Contents Abstract i i Introduction 1 Chapter One Character 9 Chapter Two Action 38 Chapter Three Space 58 Chapter Four Theme and Form 75 Chapter Five Limits of Style 91 Concluding Remarks 109 Works Consulted 114 i i i I n t r o d u c t i o n I n t e r e s t i n the cinema i s not new. More r e c e n t , however, i s a growing i n t e r e s t i n the process of film-making, as a r e s u l t o f which the f u n c t i o n i n g o f the cinem a t i c medium has i t s e l f become the fo c u s o f attention."'" In c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h t h i s heightened awareness of the t e c h n i c a l aspect o f f i l m , i n t e r e s t i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p o f f i l m to the w r i t t e n medium has i n c r e a s e d . A f i l m based on a novel i s , t h e r e f o r e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g . When a d i r e c t o r s e t s out to make a f i l m based on a novel h i s task i s more complex than would normally be the case. He must f i r s t adapt the m a t e r i a l f o r f i l m i n g and surmount the problems which a r i s e d u r i n g t h i s p r o c e s s . Yet, i n s p i t e o f the d i f f i c u l t i e s i n v o l v e d , numerous d i r e c t o r s have undertaken a d a p t a t i o n s — w i t h v a r y i n g degrees o f success. Jean Renoir i s one such d i r e c t o r . During the course o f h i s c a r e e r Renoir made a wide range of f i l m s . On s e v e r a l occasions he based f i l m s on the works o f g r e a t l i t e r a r y f i g u r e s but popular f i c t i o n , the work of 1 Edward Pi n c u s ' Guide t o Filmmaking (USA: Signet Books, New American L i b r a r y , 1969) p r o v i d e s one example of a work p u b l i s h e d i n response to the demand f o r i n f o r m a t i o n about the techniques of f i l m , i n a form a c c e s s i b l e to the layman. 1 Georges Simenon, f o r example, a l s o p r o v i d e d i n s p i r a t i o n . The t i t l e o f one of Renoir's e a r l i e s t f i l m s , Nana, made i n 1926, r e v e a l s the d i r e c t o r ' s indebtedness to Emile Z o l a . In 1934 F l a u b e r t ' s n o v e l , Madame Bovary, became the b a s i s f o r a f i l m o f the same name while e a r l i e r , i n 1932, the f i l m N u i t du c a r r e f o u r , based on Simenon's novel had been r e l e a s e d . In 1938, more than a decade a f t e r the r e l e a s e of Nana, Renoir turned h i s a t t e n t i o n once more to the author of the "experimental n o v e l " and embarked upon the f i l m i n g of La Be^te humaine. Author and d i r e c t o r have very d i f f e r e n t backgrounds. Emile Z o l a i s best known f o r the Rougon-Macquart s e r i e s , an e p i c p r o j e c t comprising twenty novels i n which the author t r a c e s the h i s t o r i e s of two f a m i l i e s , the Rougons and the Macquarts. The Rougon-Macquart s e r i e s was conceived as a d i r e c t r e s u l t of Z o l a ' s f o r m u l a t i o n of a s p e c i f i c approach to l i t e r a t u r e , an approach which was o r i g i n a l l y o u t l i n e d i n a p r e f a c e to The'rese Raquin (1868) and l a t e r f o r m a l l y d e f i n e d i n h i s essay Le Roman experimental (1880). The t h e o r i e s expounded by the young n o v e l i s t owed much to the p h i l o s o p h e r s and s c i e n t i s t s of the age — Claude Bernard's work on experimental medicine p r o v i d e s one example, H.A. Taine's 2 Jean Renoir made a number of other f i l m s based on n o v e l s . These a r e : Le Tournoi (1929), La Chienne (1931), P a r t i e de campagne (1936), Les Bas-Fonds (1936), Swamp Water (1941), The Southerner (1945), The D i a r y of a Chambermaid (1946), The Woman on the Beach (1946), The R i v e r (1946)~and Le Caporel dpingle' (1962). 2 H i s t o i r e de l a l i t t e r a t u r e a n g l a i s e p u b l i s h e d i n 1865, another — but more than anything e l s e i t was Z o l a ' s a d a p t a t i o n and a p p l i c a t i o n of the p r i n c i p l e s contained i n these and other works to the world of f i c t i o n which p o p u l a r i z e d them. So v i g o r o u s was h i s approach t h a t the term n a t u r a l i s m q u i c k l y became a s s o c i a t e d with h i s work and l a t e r , t h a t of the s c h o o l of w r i t e r s who developed under h i s 3 i n f l u e n c e . Jean Renoir, son of the i m p r e s s i o n i s t p a i n t e r Auguste Renoir, grew up i n an atmosphere c o l o r e d by the a r t i s t i c p e r c e p t i o n of h i s f a t h e r . P i e r r e Leprohon, d o u b t l e s s w r i t i n g from h i s knowledge of the d i r e c t o r ' s background, s t a t e s t h a t f o r Renoir j u n i o r : . . . l ' a r t e t a i t dans l a v i e et v i c e v e r s a . I I ne s ' a g i s s a i t done pas, 1'heure venue, de c o n q u e r i r cet a r t , mais de l e d ^ c o u v r i r , de l e degager. I I e t a i t dans l a v i e de Renoir comme l a s t a t u e dans l e b l o c de marbre. 4 N a t u r a l i s m i s , b r o a d l y speaking, the a p p l i c a t i o n of c r i t e r i a used i n the assessment of p h y s i c a l s t a t e s and c o n d i t i o n s to the assessment of moral s t a t e s . The n a t u r a l i s t p h i l o s o p h e r or w r i t e r through o b s e r v i n g man's environment s e t s out to present man e x i s t i n g w i t h i n a set of c o n d i t i o n s produced by h i m s e l f and which he, a t the same time, a c t s upon and m o d i f i e s . The method used, t h e r e f o r e , i s s c i e n t i f i c i n i t s g e n esis a r i s i n g from the p r i n c i p l e s of n o t a t i o n , decomposition and, f i n a l l y , deduction. For more i n f o r m a t i o n on n a t u r a l i s m see P i e r r e Martino, Le Naturalisme f r a n g a i s (1870-1895) ( P a r i s : L i b r a i r i e Armand C o l i n , 1930). P i e r r e Leprohon, Jean Renoir ( P a r i s : E d i t i o n s Seghers, 1967), p. 18. 3 Leprohon's o b s e r v a t i o n appears to p l a c e r e a l i s m a t the c e n t e r of Renoir's c o n c e p t i o n of a r t , an i n f e r e n c e t h a t i s confirmed by the d i r e c t o r ' s own a n a l y s i s o f h i s p o s i t i o n : Cessant d*accuser sottement l a s o i - d i s a n t incomprehension du p u b l i c , j ' e n t r e v i s l a p o s s i b i l i t y de l e toucher par l a p r o j e c t i o n de s u j e t s authentiques dans l a t r a d i t o n du r ^ a l i s m e f r a n c a i s . Je me mis a r e g a r d e r autour de moi e t , emerveill£, j e d ^ c o u v r i s des q u a n t i t ^ s d'elements purement de chez nous, tout a f a i t t r a n s p o s a b l e s a l ' ^ c r a n . . . . Je r e f i s une espece d'6tude du geste f r a n c a i s a t r a v e r s l e s tableaux de mon pere et des p e i n t r e s de sa generation.-* The l a s t sentence of t h i s q u o t a t i o n i s e s p e c i a l l y t e l l i n g . R enoir's approach does not produce the r e a l i s m o f , f o r example, F l a u b e r t . The d i r e c t o r i s always aware of the frame which, l i k e t h a t of a p a i n t i n g , e n c l o s e s h i s work, s e p a r a t i n g i t from the world of everyday people and events and d e f i n i n g i t as an ar e a i n which h i s c r e a t i v e t a l e n t h olds sway. On more than one o c c a s i o n t h i s t a l e n t takes the d i r e c t i o n of an overt s t y l i z a t i o n o f c h a r a c t e r s and s i t u a t i o n s and, although these may o r i g i n a t e i n the pragmatism of everyday l i f e , they soon generate a sense of the t h e a t r i c a l . In Renoir's v e r s i o n of Nana, f o r i n s t a n c e , the element of t h e a t r i c a l i t y 5 Jean Renoir, "Souvenirs," i n c l u d e d by Andre Bazin i n h i s work Jean Renoir, ed. F r a n c o i s T r u f f a u t ( P a r i s : E d i t i o n s Champs L i b r e s , 1971), p. 152. 4 a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the novel's heroine i s developed to a much g r e a t e r extent. Catherine H e s s l i n g , who p l a y s the r o l e , appears powdered and rouged which, together w i t h the unn a t u r a l abruptness o f her ges t u r e s , c r e a t e s the impression of a "poupee animee" (Leprohon, p. 26). In a d d i t i o n , the f i l m , w i t h i t s d i v i s i o n o f a c t i v i t y i n t o c e n t e r stage and o f f stage, has the s e l f - c o n s c i o u s a i r o f a show which e f f e c t i v e l y c r e a t e s a double f o c u s . T h i s tendency towards s t y l i z a t i o n , and i n p a r t i c u l a r the atmosphere of a show, p e r s i s t s i n Renoir's mature work and i s e s p e c i a l l y n o t a b l e i n La Regie du jeu (1939). The framework of the f i l m i s a c e l e b r a t i o n h e l d at a l a r g e country house. The guests b r i n g w i t h them t h e i r i n t r i g u e s and i n f i d e l i t i e s and a g a i n s t the backdrop of the formal entertainment, p l a y out t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l dramas. Throughout the f i l m the audience i s made aware of d i f f e r e n t groups or c o n f i g u r a t i o n s of c h a r a c t e r s as they p a r t i c i p a t e i n the s o c i a l "game" of de c e p t i o n and a d u l t e r y . Other Renoir f i l m s , however, have a very d i f f e r e n t ambiance. P a r t i e de campagne (1936), f o r example, d i s p l a y s a l y r i c a l q u a l i t y , p a r t i c u l a r l y the scene on the r i v e r when the young couple s t e a l a p r e c i o u s hour alone together. Here the d i r e c t o r captures b e a u t i f u l l y the langorous atmosphere of a hot af t e r n o o n and shots o f the r i v e r and i t s banks impose a smooth, g l i d i n g tempo. O c c u r r i n g a f t e r the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the f a m i l y ' s departure f o r t h e i r day i n the country and t h e i r a r r i v a l a t the i n n , t h i s scene r e p r e s e n t s an "epanouissement" and suggests an escape from the c o n f i n e s of " p e t i t bourgeois" 5 m e n t a l i t y (and m o r a l i t y ) before these r e s t r i c t i o n s c l o s e i r r e v o c a b l y around the daughter of the house. On the s u r f a c e , author and d i r e c t o r appear to share common ground: Renoir's d e s i r e to p o r t r a y " s u j e t s a u t h e n t i q u e s " drawn from h i s own environment would seem to c o i n c i d e w i t h Z o l a ' s o b s e r v a t i o n and use of the m a t e r i a l world as the b a s i s f o r h i s n o v e l s . However, even a c u r s o r y examination o f Renoir's work r e v e a l s a marked d i f f e r e n c e i n the way i n which he t r e a t s h i s s u b j e c t matter. Z o l a ' s world i s r o o t e d i n matter and A n t o i n e t t e Jagmetti c h a r a c t e r i z e s h i s work most s u c c i n c t l y when she says: C'est a t r a v e r s l ' o b j e t m a t e r i e l que Z o l a , d'une p a r t , exprime l'homme e t , d'autre p a r t , r e V e l e l e s puissances de l a v i e . Son monde se compose de matiere lourde et £paisse. I I n ' e x i s t e qu'en e l l e et pour e l l e . Thus the union of Z o l a and Renoir as i t occurs i n the f i l m v e r s i o n o f La BeHe humaine may not have been an easy one to achieve, as the f o l l o w i n g statement by Jean Renoir about the f i l m seems to imply: . . . j ' a i et6 a u s s i f i d e l e que j e l ' a i pu l l l ' e s p r i t du l i v r e ; j e n'en a i pas s u i v i l ' i n t r i g u e , mais j ' a i t o u j o u r s pense" q u ' i l v a l a i t mieux'etre 6 A n t o i n e t t e Jagmetti, "La Bete humaine" d'Emile Z o l a : etude de s t y l i s t i q u e c r i t i q u e (Geneve: L i b r a i r i e E. Droz, 1955), p. 13. f i d e l e a 1* e s p r i t d'une oeuvre o r i g i n a l e qu'a sa forme e x t d r i e u r e . . . . - j ' a i pense au c8t£ po^tique de Zola.7 The d i r e c t o r admits that he d i d not f o l l o w the p l o t yet at the same time a s s e r t s that he has been f a i t h f u l to something he describes as the " s p i r i t of the work." One wonders what e x a c t l y i s meant by t h i s r a t h e r nebulous d e s c r i p t i o n . Indeed, Renoir seems to have moved i n t o a t o t a l l y s u b j e c t i v e area. What i s e s p e c i a l l y noteworthy i s the d i r e c t o r ' s emphasis on " f i d e l i t y . " He i n s i s t s that he has remained f a i t h f u l to something i n t r i n s i c to the novel i n s p i t e of the sweeping changes he has made. In f a c t , because Renoir makes the assessment of what i s fundamental to the novel a s u b j e c t i v e e x e r c i s e , he i s p l a c i n g himeself f i r m l y i n c o n t r o l of the m a t e r i a l . His statement i s ther e f o r e an attempt to r e c o n c i l e the changes he has made w i t h the maintenance of the novel's i n t e g r i t y . He i s motivated, no doubt, by h i s awareness of a phenomenon operative i n the area of p u b l i c r e a c t i o n and p e c u l i a r to adaptations. A phenomenon which may be dubbed the " f i d e l i t y f a c t o r . " The f i d e l i t y f a c t o r comes i n t o p l a y , i n p a r t i c u l a r , when a f i l m has been based on a well-known novel. Audiences have p r e - e s t a b l i s h e d expectations, the film-maker i s expected to present a f i l m which w i l l l i v e up to these. I f r e a c t i o n i s unfavorable the 7 Jacques R i v e t t e et Francois T r u f f a u t , " E n t r e t i e n avec Jean Renoir," Cahiers du Cinema, No. 34 ( a v r i l 1954), p. 4. 7 film-maker i s c o n s i d e r e d to have f a i l e d both members of the audience, w i t h t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l responses to the n o v e l , and to have somehow betrayed the w r i t t e n work i t s e l f . Consequently, the film-maker's task i s d i f f i c u l t , i f not im p o s s i b l e . In t h i s study both novel and f i l m w i l l be examined w i t h the i n t e n t i o n o f i l l u s t r a t i n g the process o f a d a p t a t i o n as i t was undertaken by Renoir. The comparison w i l l , i n a d d i t i o n , t e s t the v a l i d i t y o f Renoir's c l a i m to f i d e l i t y . La Bete humaine p r o v i d e s a s p e c i f i c example, an examination o f which w i l l show how one p a r t i c u l a r d i r e c t o r t a c k l e d an a d a p t a t i o n , however, c e r t a i n g e n e r a l p r i n c i p l e s a p p l i c a b l e to the f u n c t i o n i n g o f each medium w i l l a l s o be revealed.® ° T h i s type of study p r e s e n t s p a r t i c u l a r problems w i t h regard to methodology, foremost among which i s the need to e f f e c t i v e l y d i s t i n g u i s h novel from f i l m , as they share the same t i t l e . A c c o r d i n g l y , the novel i s r e f e r r e d to i n lower case (La Bete humaine) and the f i l m i n upper case (LA BEJTE HUMAINE). In a f u r t h e r attempt to promote c l a r i t y each chapter i s d i v i d e d i n t o approximately two h a l v e s , the f i r s t d e a l i n g w i t h the n o v e l , the second w i t h the f i l m . 8 Chapter One Character The c h a r a c t e r s i n La Bete humaine f a l l i n t o three c a t e g o r i e s : r a i l w a y workers, r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f the "haute b o u r g e o i s i e " and members of the j u d i c i a l system. Of these three c a t e g o r i e s Z o l a concentrated p a r t i c u l a r l y on the f i r s t . Were one to draw up a l i s t o f the r a i l w a y workers who f e a t u r e i n the novel i t would be impressive by d i n t o f i t s l e n g t h . An engine d r i v e r , fireman, signalman, c r o s s i n g keeper, s t a t i o n - m a s t e r . . . Indeed, one would be i n c l i n e d to wonder j u s t how Z o l a managed to i n c o r p o r a t e such an a r r a y of c h a r a c t e r s i n t o one novel of f a i r l y standard l e n g t h . The c l u e l i e s i n the ease wi t h which the c h a r a c t e r s can be reduced to a l i s t o f f u n c t i o n s . Those connected w i t h the r a i l w a y range from the most e x a l t e d , i t s p r e s i d e n t , Grandmorin, to the lowly l a v a t o r y attendant, V i c t o i r e . In e f f e c t , the h i e r a r c h y which i s the o r g a n i z a t i o n o f " l a Compagnie de l'Ouest" i s represented almost i n i t s e n t i r e t y . C l e a r l y , the author went to gre a t lengths i n order to be ab l e to i n c l u d e such a number and v a r i e t y of c h a r a c t e r s . But why d i d he bother? The answer l i e s i n the n o v e l i s t ' s approach to h i s s u b j e c t . The cornerstone o f Z o l a ' s p r e p a r a t i o n of a novel was r e s e a r c h . He took much time and gre a t care documenting a 9 subject and i t s s e t t i n g . In the case of La Bete humaine the concern to reproduce an authentic milieu became almost obsessive. Information about timetables and routes, f o r instance, and about the roles of the various railway workers was accumulated u n t i l the documentary aspect of, what may be termed, the n a t u r a l i s t project gained ascendancy. Consequently, and not s u r p r i s i n g l y so, the novel i s r i c h i n d e t a i l , an observation which may at f i r s t seem quite irr e l e v a n t to a discussion of the characters. Yet i f one considers the characters as they have been l i s t e d i n t h i s study the connection w i l l become apparent. Immediately remarkable i s the tendency to catalog the characters according to t h e i r positions on the s t a f f of " l a Compagnie de l'Ouest," rather than by name. Roubaud, fo r example, i s SeVerine's husband and the murderer of her guardian and lover, Grandmorin, yet the reader i s at once given to understand that his role i n the novel i s inseparable from his role within the organization of the railway. Thus the novel opens with Roubaud's a r r i v a l i n Mere V i c t o i r e ' s rooms and he i s introduced by name: "En entrant dans l a chambre, Roubaud posa sur l a table . . ." (p. 53). But within the space of a few l i n e s the name i s replaced by the function: "Et le sous-chef de gare, ayant ouvert une fendtre, s'y accouda." The f a c t that Roubaud (as the author soon explains) owes his position to h i s wife SeVerine, ward of the president of " l a Compagnie de l'Ouest," and that he discovers her i n f i d e l i t y when he seeks to use her influence to 10 safeguard h i s p o s i t i o n , f u r t h e r e n f o r c e s the connection. The cases of l e s s e r c h a r a c t e r s are even more extreme, so much so t h a t the job can a c t u a l l y be seen to j u s t i f y the i n c l u s i o n of a p a r t i c u l a r c h a r a c t e r or c h a r a c t e r s . The signalman, O z i l , i s a prime example, as i s Dauvergne who i s i n t r o d u c e d as "Henri Dauvergne, conducteur-chef.. . ." The reason i s not hard to f i n d . Z o l a , working from h i s copious notes, aimed to g i v e as complete a p i c t u r e as p o s s i b l e of the r a i l w a y m i l i e u . He d e l i b e r a t e l y s e t out to d e p i c t as many d i f f e r e n t jobs connected w i t h the r a i l w a y as he c o u l d a s s i m i l a t e i n t o the t e x t . The emphasis thereby f a l l s on the job or f u n c t i o n and not the c h a r a c t e r . Consequently, many of the " c h a r a c t e r s " i n La Be^te humaine are not c h a r a c t e r s i n any accepted l i t e r a r y sense. They are f u n c t i o n a r i e s i n c l u d e d i n the novel as a r e s u l t of over zealous documentation and a r e , more o f t e n than not, i r r e l e v a n t to the p l o t . Viewed thus, a h i g h percentage of the c h a r a c t e r s would seem to be redundant and t h e i r i n c l u s i o n i n the novel the cause of unnecessary c l u t t e r ; y e t another, and more p o s i t i v e aspect of the i s s u e should a l s o be c o n s i d e r e d . The c h a r a c t e r s / f u n c t i o n a r i e s i n c l u d e d by Z o l a may o f t e n appear s u p e r f l u o u s on an i n d i v i d u a l b a s i s however c o l l e c t i v e l y , they serve a d i s t i n c t purpose. By h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n of such a m u l t i p l i c i t y of c h a r a c t e r s Z o l a e f f e c t i v e l y extends awareness of s t a t i o n l i f e , u n t i l the m i l i e u i t s e l f i s p e r c e i v e d as a p r o t a g o n i s t . Z o l a ' s concerns as a n a t u r a l i s t w r i t e r had an obvious 11 b e a r i n g on the c h o i c e of c h a r a c t e r s i n c l u d e d i n the n o v e l . Moreover, i t w i l l be seen t h a t c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n throughout La Bete humaine i s a l s o i n t i m a t e l y connected w i t h these same concerns. Each novel i n the Rougon-Macquart s e r i e s e x p l o r e s a p a r t i c u l a r a r e a or aspect of human e x i s t e n c e . La B6te humaine, as the t i t l e i m p l i e s , takes as i t s s u b j e c t a p a t h o l o g i c a l murderer, ye t the novel's major theme extends beyond the d e p i c t i o n of a s i n g l e crazed k i l l e r . A c l o s e r look a t a s e l e c t i o n of the c h a r a c t e r s w i l l e x p l a i n why. Roubaud i s d e s c r i b e d s h o r t l y a f t e r h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n : I I ne v i e i l l i s s a i t p o i n t , l a quarantaine a p p r o c h a i t , sans que l e roux ardent de ses cheveux f r i s e s eut p c l l i . Sa barbe, q u ' i l p o r t a i t e n t i e r e , r e s t a i t drue, e l l e a u s s i , d'un blond de s o l e i l . E t , de t a i l l e moyenne, mais d'une e x t r a o r d i n a i r e v i gueur, i l se p l a i s a i t a sa personne, s a t i s f a i t de sa t e t e un peu p l a t e , au f r o n t bas, a l a nuque ^ p a i s s e , de sa f a c e ronde et sanguine, e c l a i r e e de deux gros yeux v i f s . Ses s o u r c i l s se r e j o i g n a i e n t , e m b r o u s s a i l l a n t son f r o n t de l a barre des j a l o u x . (p. 56) Pecqueux makes h i s f i r s t appearance accompanied by the f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n : . . . un grand g a i l l a r d de q u a r a n t e - t r o i s ans, maigre avec de gros os, l a f a c e c u i t e par l e f e u et par l a fumee. Ses yeux g r i s sous l e f r o n t bas, sa bouche l a r g e dans une machoire s a i l l a n t e , r i a i e n t d'un c o n t i n u e l r i r e de noceur. (p. 115) 12 While mention of h i s ( l e g a l ) w i f e V i c t o i r e prompts the i n f o r m a t i o n t h a t she has become "enorme et d i f f i c i l e a remuer," the exact o p p o s i t e o f Pecqueux. The p a t t e r n i s e s t a b l i s h e d . Each c h a r a c t e r i s presented by means of a c o n c i s e p h y s i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n . The d e s c r i p t i o n i s i n v a r i a b l y succeeded by an e q u a l l y s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e t o t h e i r n a t u r e s . Thus Roubaud i s overcome by a wave of j e a l o u s rage as he wa i t s f o r SeVerine: Un f l o t de sang montait a son crane, ses poings d'ancien homme d'equipe se s e r r a i e n t . . . I I r e d e v e n a i t l a brute i n c o n s c i e n t e de sa f o r c e . . . (p. 57) Pecqueux, i t i s r e v e a l e d , "ne devenait vraiment a c r a i n d r e que l o r s q u ' i l e t a i t i v r e , c a r i l se changeait a l o r s en v r a i e b r u t e , capable d'un mauvais coup" (p. 116). And V i c t o i r e ? she d i s p l a y s the easy-going d i s p o s i t i o n so o f t e n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h f a t people, t o l e r a t i n g her husband's i n f i d e l i t i e s and even g i v i n g him money " a f i n q u ' i l p r i t du p l a i s i r dehors. Jamais e l l e n ' a v a i t beaucoup s o u f f e r t de ses i n f i d e l i t e s . . . " (p. 116). Both Roubaud and Pecqueux are p l a c e d beneath the s i g n o f the sun, the former having h a i r "d'un roux ardent" while the l a t t e r ' s f a c e i s " c u i t e par l e f e u et par l a fumde." Each has a c h o l e r i c d i s p o s i t i o n and t h e i r i n c l i n a t i o n to p h y s i c a l v i o l e n c e i s f u r t h e r i m p l i e d by the low forehead common to them both. V i c t o i r e , on the other hand, i s q u i t e simply the 13 embodiment of phlegm. Thus an examination of these three c h a r a c t e r s r e v e a l s a s y s t e m a t i c approach to c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n t h a t extends throughout the n o v e l . An approach which has as i t s b a s i s the assumption of a d i r e c t (and obvious) l i n k between p h y s i c a l appearance and b e h a v i o r a l t e n d e n c i e s . One can t r a c e t h i s p o s t u l a t i o n back to Z o l a ' s r e s e a r c h and, i n p a r t i c u l a r , h i s i n t e r e s t i n the work of the I t a l i a n c r i m i n o l o g i s t , Cesare Lombroso. 9 The e f f e c t of Z o l a ' s r a t h e r l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t i o n of Lombroso's t h e o r i e s i n t o the c h a r a c t e r s of La Bete humaine i s extreme. The " c h a r a c t e r s " possess no p s y c h o l o g i c a l dimension and are t o t a l l y l a c k i n g i n depth. They are c r e a t u r e s of i n s t i n c t and r e a c t to the s t i m u l u s of t h e i r emotions without any i n t e r v e n i n g process of r a t i o c i n a t i o n . Consequently, any one of them co u l d be c i t e d as the p e r f e c t example of f l e s h unleavened by s p i r i t ; every one of them without e x c e p t i o n would, i f so c i t e d , r e v e a l The Beast i n Man as the E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n of the novel i s so a p t l y e n t i t l e d . Thus Jacques may i n i t i a l l y have been con s i d e r e d the eponymous c h a r a c t e r and he i s indeed prey to a deadly obses s i o n , but Misard f o r i n s t a n c e , i s obsessed with g Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909) i s best known f o r h i s works The C r i m i n a l Man (1876) and Crime, i t s Causes and i t s Remedies (1899). He formulated the concept of the a t a v i s t i c c r i m i n a l , based on the i d e a of b i o l o g i c a l r e g r e s s i o n to a more p r i m i t i v e s t a t e of e v o l u t i o n . He b e l i e v e d t h a t c r i m i n a l s have more p h y s i c a l a b n o r m a l i t i e s than n o n - c r i m i n a l s and grouped these "stigmata" i n t o c a t e g o r i e s by which he claimed to be a b l e to i d e n t i f y d i f f e r e n t c r i m i n a l types. "Lombroso," E n c y c l o p e d i a Americana, 1985 ed. 14 f i n d i n g Phasie's nestegg and i n order to achieve p o s s e s s i o n of the money which he i s convinced i s hidden somewhere i n the cotta g e , poisons h i s w i f e . F l o r e i s i n love with Jacques; when she d i s c o v e r s h i s a f f a i r with SeVerine she s e t s out to k i l l them both by causing t h e i r t r a i n to c r a s h , i n s t e a d she b r i n g s s u f f e r i n g and death to a number o f innocent passengers. Roubaud d i s c o v e r s SeVerine's i n f i d e l i t y and h i s r e a c t i o n i s immediate and extreme: C e t a i t un be s o i n physique, immediat, comme une faim de vengeance, q u i l u i t o r d a i t l e corps et qu i ne l u i l a i s s e r a i t p l u s aucun repos, t a n t q u ' i l ne l ' a u r a i t pas s a t i s f a i t e . (p. 73) Each c h a r a c t e r i s a monotone sounding the same note throughout the n o v e l , but to what e f f e c t are these s i n g l e notes combined? A c l o s e r look a t the three p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r s , Severine, Roubaud and Jacques, w i l l p r ovide the answer. Severine r e p r e s e n t s an a l l u r i n g woman wit h "1•Strangete* de ses l a r g e s yeux b l e u s , sous son ̂ p a i s s e chevelure n o i r e " (p. 57). At the ou t s e t Z o l a s t r e s s e s the p a s s i v e q u a l i t y o f her s e n s u a l i t y which i s garbed i n a c h i l d l i k e naivete* but which she, nonetheless, uses to good e f f e c t on the s u s p i c i o u s Roubaud: " . . . avec une g e n t i l l e s s e d'enfant, e l l e se j e t a a son cou, en l u i posant, sur l a bouche, sa j o l i e p e t i t e main poteiee" (p. 58). L a t e r , her s e n s u a l i t y f u l l y awakened i n Jacques's embrace, she seeks to use her power to bend the 15 engine driver to her w i l l i n an act of seduction that seals her own fate: D'un mouvement c a l i n , e l l e s'approchait pour se pendre a l u i de ses bras nus, levant sa gorge ronde, que decouvrait l a chemise, gliss e e sur une ^paule. (p. 343) For Roubaud Severine i s "1'unique roman de son existence." He i s besotted with her. Clearly, he i s cast as the jealous husband but the role i s more extreme than the stereotypical description implies. Emphasis i s placed on his origins as a laborer. He i s alluded to as "un ancien homme d'equipe," "un ouvrier ddgrossi." These references are reinforced by the presentation of h i s physical strength and ready recourse to brute force when he turns upon his wife. Roubaud's jealousy i s i n fact pathological. Jacques, on the basis of his physical description, i s less obviously categorized. He i s presented as a "beau garcon au visage rond et rdgulier mais que gataient des machoires trop f o r t e s . " On the surface, a l l appears well yet the flaw i s present and when Jacques loses control his features d i s t o r t and the beast surfaces: Cependant, e l l e , fSeVerineJ qui croyait bien connaitre Jacques, s'dtonnait. II avait sa tete ronde de beau gargon, ses cheveux frise's, ses moustaches tres noires, ses yeux bruns diamantes d'or; mais sa machoire inferieure avancait tellement, dans une sorte de coup de gueule, q u ' i l s'en trouvait d£figure*. (p. 346) 16 It i s i n the inte r a c t i o n of these three characters that the f u l l extent of th e i r individual obsessions i s r e a l i z e d . Severine's seductive charm, f o r instance, creates the circumstances which bring about Roubaud*s outburst of vi o l e n t temper. As a r e s u l t he murders Grandmorin. Jacques, i n turn, responds to SeVerine because of his own dark secret. He i s fascinated by her connection with vi o l e n t death and hopes she w i l l v i c a r i o u s l y s a t i s f y his manic cravings. In her rel a t i o n s h i p with Jacques SeVerine's sensual nature i s revealed In a l l i t s potency. She becomes a "femme d'amour, complaisante a l'homme, toute a c e l u i qui l a tenait, sans coeur pour 1'autre qu'elle n'avait jamais ddsir^." Governed by sensual egotism, she can envisage only one course of action — the calculated murder of her husband: "On s'en debarrassait p u i s q u ' i l genait, r i e n n'dtait plus naturel" (p. 345). The process of interaction, when considered i n terms of the above outline, reveals a s p e c i f i c function. It i n f a c t provides the trigger mechanism which activates the ensuing sequence of events. Roubaud i s the primer. His explosion of jealous fury leads to the plan to murder Grandmorin. After the murder the g u i l t y couple a c t i v e l y seek to a l l a y suspicion. Severine sets out to charm Jacques whom she and Roubaud fear may suspect them and give evidence that w i l l prove incriminating. However, SeVerine i s caught i n her own trap and f a l l s passionately i n love with Jacques. Her t o t a l commitment to Jacques paves the way f o r the next l i n k : she p l o t s to do away wit h Roubaud u s i n g Jacques as the a s s a s s i n . Jacques, meanwhile, i s f i n d i n g i t i n c r e a s i n g l y d i f f i c u l t to c o n t r o l h i s manic urge to k i l l a woman. Pr o x i m i t y to Severine i n the s e x u a l l y charged atmosphere of the bedroom at the Croix-de-Maufras where they await t h e i r v i c t i m , proves too much f o r Jacques and he turns upon Severine i n a d e l i r i u m of b l o o d l u s t . At t h i s p o i n t the reader understands t h a t the ch a i n i s complete, even without the h e a v i l y r h e t o r i c a l q u e s t i o n posed by Z o l a : "et l e s deux meurtres s ' ^ t a i e n t r e j o i n t s , l ' un n ' e t a i t - i l pas l a lo g i q u e de l ' a u t r e ? " (p. 349). The " l o g i c " o r thread o f i n e v i t a b i l i t y which l i n k s the murders has i t s source i n the c h a r a c t e r s ' impulses — impulses which are i n v a r i a b l y o f the basest k i n d . Undoubtedly, the c h a r a c t e r s are s t r o n g l y d e f i n e d , indeed they are d e f i n e d as much by what they l a c k as by what they embody. Q u a l i t i e s which counterbalance man's l e s s d e s i r a b l e t r a i t s are n o t a b l y absent. As a r e s u l t , i t i s imp o s s i b l e to empathize w i t h the e n t i t i e s presented by Z o l a . Poor, misshapen t h i n g s , they are fragments s p l i n t e r e d from a m i r r o r i n which on l y the darkest s i d e of human nature i s r e f l e c t e d . * C a s t i n g i s an important p a r t o f the d i r e c t o r ' s task. He must approach the s e l e c t i o n o f a c t o r s and a c t r e s s e s with care f o r the p h y s i c a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the c h a r a c t e r s on the screen — even before d i r e c t i o n and a c t i n g a b i l i t y come i n t o 18 p l a y — has an immediate impact on the audience. However, i n the case o f LA BETE HUMAINE t h i s procedure was r e v e r s e d . Jean Gabin, the l e a d i n g a c t o r i n France, i n i t i a t e d the i d e a of adapting La Bete humaine. H i s m o t i v a t i o n — a long s t a n d i n g d e s i r e to d r i v e a t r a i n on s c r e e n . 1 0 A c c o r d i n g l y , the novel was s e l e c t e d to pro v i d e a p a r t i c u l a r r o l e . Chosen to p l a y SeVerine was Simone Simon who, p r e v i o u s l y , had been pursuing her c a r e e r i n Hollywood. Both the male and female l e a d s , t h e r e f o r e , were g i v e n to " f a c e s " i n the f i l m world. The obvious advantage of c a s t i n g a famous a c t o r or a c t r e s s i n a p a r t i s the added b o x - o f f i c e draw which the f i l m immediately a c q u i r e s . The p u b l i c are more l i k e l y to go to the f i l m i f onl y f o r the sake of seein g a w e l l - l o v e d f a c e . In a d d i t i o n , a " s t a r " has u s u a l l y b u i l t up a r e p u t a t i o n f o r a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d o f r o l e or s t y l e o f a c t i n g and the p u b l i c w i l l i n e v i t a b l y make an a s s o c i a t i o n between what i t a l r e a d y knows of a gi v e n f i l m a c t o r and h i s new r o l e , thereby making an i m p l i c i t assumption about the l a t e s t f i l m . The s t a r s c a s t i n LA BETE HUMAINE, p a r t i c u l a r l y those i n the l e a d i n g r o l e s , a l l boasted a c e r t a i n p h y s i c a l a t t r a c t i v e n e s s (a f a c t which d o u b t l e s s c o n t r i b u t e d to the success of t h e i r c a r e e r s ) . Gabin w i t h h i s s t r o n g , open f e a t u r e s , which a t i g h t e n i n g of the jaw or a t w i s t o f the Raymond Durgnat, Jean Renoir (Berkeley: U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1974), p. 172. mouth could render s i n i s t e r , had played a wide variety of parts. Simon's delicate yet sensual charm would be exploited to the f u l l i n the fil m i n g of Cat People (1943). Attractiveness, however, i s not immediately associated with the characters of the novel, what springs to mind i s th e i r lack of s e l f - c o n t r o l , the violence into which they erupt so ea s i l y . Antoinette Jagmetti considers the emphatic features that Zola assigns to his characters to be the counterbalance to the protagonists' f i e r y temperaments, somehow containing and r e s t r a i n i n g t h e i r disruptive (and eruptive) urges: Les descriptions se reduisent a quelques t r a i t s , nets, vigoureux, souvent durs . . . . Les contours precis semblent n'Qtre aussi fortement accentuds que parce q u ' i l s renferment et contiennent les ^ puissances i n t ^ r i e u r e s e'ruptives et insondables. Yet, although strongly defined i n terms of appearance, the characters are not without a certain physical appeal. Roubaud i s a vigorous man of average build with large i n t e l l i g e n t eyes and a thick blond beard. Both Jacques and SeVerine are a t t r a c t i v e . I t i s only when rage breaks through that the portent of Zola's characterization i s r e a l i z e d . Renoir's casting i s , then, not inappropriate. A sense of tension emanates from Gabin, he has the a i r of a man who fears to l e t go i n case that moment of relaxation should Jagmetti, p. 19. 20 become l o s s of c o n t r o l . H i s good looks a c t u a l l y become a p a r t of h i s c o n d i t i o n , p i n p o i n t i n g the i r o n y o f h i s s i t u a t i o n — t h a t of an a t t r a c t i v e man who must a v o i d women. Simone Simon's performance was r e c e i v e d w i t h mixed c r i t i c a l r e a c t i o n . Graham Greene, however, comments f a v o r a b l y : . . . M i l e Simon . . . a c t s w i t h i n t e n s i t y the l i t t l e , s e n s u a l , treacherous wi f e . . . helped . . . by a cameraman who knows how to d e a l w i t h the coarse b l a c k e l e c t r i c h a i r , the snub nose, the r a t h e r A f r i c a n f e a t u r e s . 1 2 Simon's s l e n d e r f i g u r e and sinuous grace p r o v i d e the p e r f e c t combination f o r a p o r t r a y a l of S e v e r i n e . Roubaud's temper r i s e s and she c a j o l e s him; h i s arms c l o s e about her and she evades him, as e l u s i v e as a b u t t e r f l y . Fernand Ledoux, who had h i s f i r s t major r o l e i n the p a r t of Roubaud, appears to be a l l t h a t i s average: a man approaching middle-age w i t h a steady job and a happy marriage. The s t r e n g t h of h i s a c t i n g a b i l i t y i s r e v e a l e d i n h i s p o r t r a y a l o f Roubaud's d e c l i n e — he d e p i c t s a man whose sphere of e f f e c t i v e n e s s (home and work) has been destroyed and who, once the i n i t i a l rush of anger i s p a s t , becomes i n e f f e c t u a l . Ledoux/Roubaud i s q u i t e u n l i k e Z o l a ' s c h a r a c t e r . He i s d i s t i n c t l y " p e t i t bourgeois" and h i s urge to v i o l e n c e seems Graham Greene, "La Bete humaine," The S p e c t a t o r , 5 May 1939, p. 760. 21 u n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c and i s soon exhausted. Yet w i t h a l l three c h a r a c t e r s , when con s i d e r e d i n r e l a t i o n to t h e i r c o u n t e r p a r t s i n the n o v e l , there i s a sense of incompleteness. Each f i l m c h a r a c t e r i s c a s t i n a s p e c i f i c mold. Simon/Severine, f o r example, i s a t t r a c t i v e and f l i r t a t i o u s . G a b i n / L a n t i e r i s handsome and t r o u b l e d . In e f f e c t , the f a c e s which f i t the r o l e s both add to and d e t r a c t from the o r i g i n a l c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n . The p h y s i c a l r e a l i t y of the a c t o r s has undeniable immediacy ye t i t f a l l s s h o r t of the c a r e f u l d e s c r i p t i o n s g i v e n i n the w r i t t e n medium. Indeed, what i s conveyed i s the s u r f a c e a t t r a c t i v e n e s s without the u n d e r l y i n g t u r b u l e n c e which i s such an i n t e g r a l p a r t of Z o l a ' s c h a r a c t e r s . The o r i g i n a l c h a r a c t e r s have, i n f a c t , become the t h i r d stage i n a process which f i r s t of a l l imposes on them the p h y s i c a l r e a l i t y of an a c t u a l person and secondly, i f t h a t person i s a s t a r , an aura of fame which a r i s e s from an i n e s c a p a b l e a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h the a c t o r ' s p r e v i o u s s t a r r i n g r o l e s . The end product i s not, f o r example, L a n t i e r but G a b i n / L a n t i e r . Here a r i s e s the f i r s t major p o i n t of d e v i a t i o n between the two media, a d e v i a t i o n based on the d i s t i n c t i o n between c r e a t i o n and r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . Z o l a c r e a t e d the c h a r a c t e r s of La B£te humaine, Renoir represented them on s c r e e n . Z o l a enjoyed the freedom of the c r e a t o r ; he c o u l d assemble the v a r i o u s f e a t u r e s p r o v i d e d by Lombroso 1s r e s e a r c h i n any combination he chose i n order to produce the c h a r a c t e r s . Renoir, on the other hand, was doubly t i e d . F i r s t l y , to the 22 novel that he had taken as the basis f o r his f i l m and secondly (and most unavoidably) to physical r e a l i t y . Thus SeVerine, Roubaud and Jacques acquired an existence independent of t h e i r f i c t i o n a l counterparts, but how did Renoir set about bringing them to l i f e on screen? SeVerine f i r s t appears seated before an open window, stroking a white angora k i t t e n . Yet t h i s bare description f a i l s to do j u s t i c e to the masterful tableau which Renoir thereby achieves: a background of sunshine against which i s set the slender young woman with the piquant features, a charming l i t t l e cat i n her arms. A sequence of impressions i s i n the process of formulation. The aim — to establish Severine's character. Roubaud enters. He embraces his wife. She moves her head and the k i s s intended f o r her l i p s brushes her cheek. Dialogue ensues. Throughout Roubaud defers to his wife, whose tone c a r r i e s an edge of impatience on more than one occasion. In a matter of moments Renoir has successfully conveyed not only Severine's character but the balance of her rela t i o n s h i p with her husband. The i n i t i a l aura of tender charm has been undermined by the revelation of a coquettish and manipulative nature. SeVerine i s c e r t a i n l y a t t r a c t i v e to look at but, l i k e the k i t t e n which may show i t s claws at any time, her f r a g i l e appeal cloaks a sharper and less appealing nature. Her f i r s t contact with Jacques occurs aboard the Le Havre t r a i n just a f t e r Roubaud has murdered Grandmorin. Aware that Jacques saw her and Roubaud heading towards 23 Grandmorin 1s compartment, she approaches the young man i n the hope of disarming him. However, her f a l t e r i n g attempt at conversation i s received with obvious surprise and she retreats. Later, when the body has been discovered and the passengers are detained at the station, she sends Jacques a look of such mute appeal that he i s moved. This point marks the outset of the c o l l u s i o n between Roubaud, Severine and Jacques. Henceforward Severine's bearing i n Jacques's presence i s more assured and when the couple meet without Roubaud, the pact i s sealed. The young woman asks Jacques to believe i n her innocence and he assures her: "Je suis votre ami, vous pouvez compter entierement sur moi... 13 entierement." Now SeVerine i s confident of her power over Jacques. She pouts p r e t t i l y at the young man and t e l l s him not to stare at her ". . . parce que vous a l l e z vous user les yeux." 1 4 Subsequently, Severine pays p a r t i c u l a r attention to the engine d r i v e r . She kisses him i n greeting then makes a play of removing a smudge of l i p s t i c k from h i s cheek. This 13 This quotation i s taken d i r e c t l y from the f i l m . The o r i g i n a l s c r i p t underwent so many modifications that i t coincides only r a r e l y with the f i n i s h e d version of the f i l m , a point made by Pierre Leprohon: "II [Renoir] . . . redigea en quinze j'ours un scenario assez s u p e r f i c i e l dont le dialogue e t a i t tres mauvais (ce sont les termes de l'auteur) . . . i l ne r£pond que tres rarement au f i l m r e a l i s t . Une f o i s de plus, Renoir modifia le scenario en tournant, remplacant le plus souvent son dialogue ha*tif par c e l u i du romancier." Leprohon, p. 78. Jean Renoir La Bete humaine (Scenario) (Paris: Copy Bourse, n.d.), p. 57. Referred to subsequently as "Sc r i p t . " 24 and a number of other l i t t l e attentions increase the intimacy between them u n t i l Jacques can maintain the charade no longer; he declares his love for Severine but she, protesting that she i s unable to love anyone, r e c o i l s . She plays f o r sympathy, hinting coyly at an unfortunate experience i n her childhood. Jacques i s convinced by her g u i l e l e s s a i r and agrees that they should be simply "de bons camarades" (direct t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) . Yet i t i s SeVerine who, l a t e r , i n i t i a t e s the change i n the relationship and they become lovers. One p a r t i c u l a r gesture, at t h i s stage, provides the clue to SeVerine's nature and gives the l i e to her presentation of herself as a victim of the opposite sex. She meets Jacques i n Paris at V i c t o i r e ' s rooms. With a predatory, nipping movement that speaks both of her assertiveness within the rel a t i o n s h i p and her assurance of her own sensuality, she moves eagerly into her lover's embrace. Roubaud i s f i r s t seen i n his position as deputy station-master, doggedly enforcing the rules of the company in the face of threats from a high ranking passenger who has infringed a regulation. The switch from professional to domestic scene provides an insight into two aspects of Roubaud's character: his honesty and dedication to duty ( i t would have been easier f o r him to simply avoid the confrontation or to kow-tow to the offender); and h i s devotion to his young wife. when his passion f o r Severine has been destroyed he becomes a s h e l l of a man. His 25 a t t e n t i o n to h i s d u t i e s i s p e r f u n c t o r y ; the f o c a l p o i n t of h i s e x i s t e n c e i s the c a f e where he can l o s e h i m s e l f , b r i e f l y , i n a p a s s i o n f o r gambling. But even here h i s changed circumstances are h i g h l i g h t e d . He l o s e s and plunges i n t o a downward s p i r a l of debt and i n c r e a s e d s p e c u l a t i o n . The c h e e r f u l employee who a t the beginning o f the f i l m turned down an i n v i t a t i o n to p l a y cards i s now seen i n t e n t on a game. When i t ends he l o s e s a l l animation, h i s shoulders slump and he r i s e s h e a v i l y . H i s demeanor i s l e s s t h a t of d e j e c t i o n than the absence of any f e e l i n g s a t a l l . He makes h i s rounds of the depot and h i s movements are those of an automaton. S t a r i n g ahead with vacant eyes, he moves past Jacques and Severine, concealed i n the shadows, o b l i v i o u s to t h e i r presence. Indeed, one cannot h e l p f e e l i n g t h a t he would have welcomed the blow i f Jacques had been ab l e to d e l i v e r i t . Jacques pres e n t s an image of uneasy r e t i c e n c e . He i s t a c i t u r n and tense and o n l y seems to r e l a x when a t work. Consequently, a d i v i s i o n i s n o t i c e a b l e between Jacques i n h i s p r o f e s s i o n a l c a p a c i t y and Jacques as an i n d i v i d u a l . The f i l m opens wi t h shots of Jacques d r i v i n g h i s engine. Here he i s i n command, h i s a t t e n t i o n completely on the o p e r a t i o n of the engine. Back at the depot, however, he seems to r e t r e a t i n t o h i m s e l f , remaining a l o o f from the l i g h t - h e a r t e d banter of h i s c o l l e a g u e s . When he r e p o r t s the damage to the engine which oc c u r r e d d u r i n g the journey, he a l l u d e s to " l a L i s o n " and the c l e r k q u e s t i o n s : "Qu'est-ce que c ' e s t ' l a L i s o n ' ? " Jacques 26 r e p l i e s : "C'est ma machine" (direct t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) . This brusque response hints at the depth of the attachment that the driver f e e l s f o r his engine. It i s a f e e l i n g which extends beyond professional pride. Jacques has endowed the machine with the personality of a woman and given "her" a name and i n t h i s substitution he enjoys a measure of release, fo r with the metal giant he i s i n control both of "her" and, more importantly, of himself. Jacques's a t t r a c t i o n to Severine i s the source of the rare occasions when he i s seen to relax. They meet i n the depot and Jacques i n v i t e s Severine aboard h i s engine. This scene, occurring when l a Lison i s about to be supplanted by a woman of f l e s h and blood, temporarily unites the two facets of Jacques's character. Yet the hope which Jacques glimpses i n his association with Severine i s but a b r i e f spark. It f l a r e s — represented, metaphorically, by the sunrise which greets the couple a f t e r they have consummated t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p — and dies when Severine confesses her part i n Grandmorin's murder, at which point Jacques f e e l s the s t i r r i n g of a dreaded desire. With the confirmation of hi s worst fears the s t r a i n returns to Jacques, accompanied by an a i r of desperation f o r now the engine driver knows that he cannot escape his condition. The characters can be summed up quite concisely: SeVerine i s a coquette; Roubaud ( o r i g i n a l l y ) a conscientious employee and devoted husband; and Jacques i s a loner. In fact , what such a summing up reveals i s a series of types. 27 That Renoir d e a l t i n types, of an a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t k i n d from Z o l a , i s f u r t h e r borne out by an examination of the other c h a r a c t e r s ; i n p a r t i c u l a r F l o r e , and the Misards g e n e r a l l y . Renoir p r e s e n t s F l o r e i n a p a s t o r a l s e t t i n g ; she has j u s t f i n i s h e d b a t h i n g i n a p o o l . Two young men are l o o k i n g on, t e a s i n g her and she r e a c t s by pushing one of them i n t o the water. The scene i s taken d i r e c t l y from the novel where i t i s g i v e n as an example of the reasons behind F l o r e ' s r e p u t a t i o n as a v i r a g o . Z o l a ' s F l o r e i s imbued with a p r i s t i n e savagery and the c h a r a c t e r c o n t a i n s more than a h i n t of Artemis the V i r g i n Huntress. The o r i g i n a l encounter i s , t h e r e f o r e , d e c i d e d l y more v i o l e n t . One of the young men has the misfortune to be s e i z e d by F l o r e , "et e l l e l ' a v a i t a r r a n g ^ s i b i e n , que personne ne l a g u e t t a i t p l u s " (p. 94). In the f i l m , F l o r e ' s r e a c t i o n i s presented as the r e s u l t of a b u r s t o f temper and marks her with a r a t h e r a p p e a l i n g gaucherie. Her response to Jacques i s i n the same v e i n . She shuns him more from a sense o f awkwardness and a spark of tomboyish independence than any r e a l d e s i r e to evade h i s c a r e s s . The p a s t o r a l scene, the l a u g h t e r of the two young men and F l o r e ' s p e t u l a n t f l o u n c e as she steps onto the bank combine to produce a sympathetic image of a buxom country l a s s on the t h r e s h o l d of womanhood. The same process of e t i o l a t i o n can be seen a t work on her p a r e n t s . Gone are the stubborn Phasie and the a v a r i c i o u s Misard, i n t h e i r p l a c e s Renoir p r e s e n t s a benevolent i n v a l i d , concerned f o r her 28 god-son's w e l l b e i n g , and an innocuous c r o s s i n g keeper. A marked d i f f e r e n c e e x i s t s t h e r e f o r e between the types d e p i c t e d by Z o l a and those d e p i c t e d by Renoir. The t r e n d i s towards a n i c e n e s s t o t a l l y a t odds with the o r i g i n a l s . Even Jacques, i n h i s s t r u g g l e to overcome h i s c o n d i t i o n , evokes sympathy r a t h e r than r e v u l s i o n . Indeed, the e x i s t e n c e of such a v a s t g u l f between the c h a r a c t e r s i n the book and t h e i r p o r t r a y a l on screen suggests that they underwent a major review d u r i n g the work of a d a p t a t i o n , a review which c o u l d most a c c u r a t e l y be d e s c r i b e d as an "embourgeoisement." Petulance r e p l a c e s a g g r e s s i o n ; f l i r t a t i o u s n e s s i s s u b s t i t u t e d f o r s e n s u a l i t y — these t r a i t s were much more s o c i a l l y a c c e p t a b l e . The s i t u a t i o n s , devoted husband deceived by f l i g h t y w i f e , f o r example, or the murder of the w i f e ' s l o v e r by a v e n g e f u l husband, were s i t u a t i o n s w i t h which the audience c o u l d a t l e a s t i d e n t i f y . The p r e s e n t a t i o n of v i o l e n c e as a norm (as i s the case i n the novel) would have been an a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t matter. Moreover, i t should not be f o r g o t t e n t h a t Renoir was o b l i g e d to conform to the moral standards of the day due to the n e c e s s i t y of s a t i s f y i n g the o f f i c i a l censor. Undoubtedly the most s t r i k i n g change i n c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n i s to be found i n Renoir's r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of Pecqueux. He c a s t C a r e t t e i n the r o l e . The a c t o r ' s name appears i n the c r e d i t s "en v e d e t t e , " thereby f o c u s i n g a t t e n t i o n on h i s appearance i n the f i l m and reminding the audience of h i s renown... as a comedian! A g r e a t e r d i f f e r e n c e between the f i l m c h a r a c t e r and the o r i g i n a l can h a r d l y be imagined. The Pecqueux of the f i l m i s a s h o r t , winsome f i g u r e who adds a welcome note of whimsical humor. In h i s p a r t n e r s h i p w i t h Jacques he p r o v i d e s the counterbalance to h i s somber companion. Once more the emphasis i s on n i c e n e s s f o r , although Pecqueux has the makings of a rogue, he i s an extremely l i k e a b l e one and the s i n c e r i t y of h i s concern f o r Jacques i s never i n doubt. One c h a r a c t e r has y e t to be mentioned i n e i t h e r context of book or f i l m . Cabuche, the shy quarryman, i s transformed f o r no apparent reason i n t o a poacher and appears only b r i e f l y i n the f i l m . Z o l a i n s e r t s a cameo of Beauty and the Beast i n t o the novel i n the form of Cabuche*s d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i s love f o r the tender young L o u i s e t t e . On h i s r e t u r n from p r i s o n where he has served f o u r years f o r k i l l i n g a man i n a q u a r r e l , Cabuche f i n d s h i m s e l f an o u t c a s t and r e t r e a t s i n t o the woods. L o u i s e t t e i s the o n l y person who t r e a t s him l i k e a human being: A l o r s , t o u t l e monde me f u y a i t , on m'aurait jet6 des p i e r r e s . Et e l l e , dans l a f o r e t ou je l a r e n c o n t r a i s t o u j o u r s , e l l e s • a p p r o c h a i t , e l l e c a u s a i t , e l l e 6 t a i t g e n t i l l e , oh! g e n t i l l e . . . Nous sommes done devenus amis comme ca. Nous nous ten i o n s par l a main, en nous promenant. C*£tait s i bon, s i bon, dans ce temps-la.!... (p. 153) Cabuche combine i s p r i m a r i l y a v i c t i m of the two elements which to form h i s c h a r a c t e r : g r e a t p h y s i c a l s t r e n g t h and 30 profound n a i v e t e . A c c o r d i n g l y , he f u n c t i o n s as a scapegoat throughout the n o v e l . He i s accused of Grandmorin's murder, blamed f o r the t r a i n c r a s h engineered by F l o r e and f i n a l l y condemned as Roubaud's accomplice i n the murder of SeVerine. In the f i l m Jean Renoir h i m s e l f p l a y s the p a r t of Cabuche. His l o n g e s t appearance i s the speech made d u r i n g h i s q u e s t i o n i n g , when he d e s c r i b e s the r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h L o u i s e t t e . V i o l e n t p r o t e s t a t i o n s of innocence r e s u l t i n him being dragged from the room. He does not reappear and the audience i s l e f t w i t h the examining m a g i s t r a t e ' s assumption of h i s g u i l t : ". . . c ' e s t aux yeux que je l e s r e c o n n a i s . . . Son compte e s t bon... I I e s t a nous" ( S c r i p t , p. 42). Cabuche has been reduced to a f a i r l y obvious p l o t mechanism and a f t e r one subsequent r e f e r e n c e to him by Jacques who, i n c o n v e r s a t i o n with the Roubauds, a s s e r t s the poacher's innocence, no more i s heard o f him. The r e s u l t i s an imbalance. Renoir p l a y s the p a r t w i t h verve and wrings every ounce of f e e l i n g from the s t o r y of Cabuche's love f o r L o u i s e t t e then... Cabuche j u s t d i s a p p e a r s . The i n t e r r o g a t i o n scene i s thus l e f t unsupported, j u t t i n g out l i k e a broken spar from the r i g g i n g . I t seems that i n t h i s i n s t a n c e the d i r e c t o r ' s love of pathos has l e d him to subvert h i s own chosen l i m i t s i n adapting the n o v e l . As the innocent poacher was to disappear so completely, h i s appearance should have been c o r r e s p o n d i n g l y b r i e f and unmarked by any emotional atmosphere i n order to a v o i d a subsequent sense of i n c o n g r u i t y . 31 Zola's d e s i r e to p o r t r a y the r a i l w a y m i l i e u as a c c u r a t e l y and f u l l y as p o s s i b l e i s achieved most e f f e c t i v e l y through the medium of f i l m . Men and machines are seen i n a c t i o n . Shots of engines being d r i v e n , shunted, cleaned and g e n e r a l l y maintained occur a t i n t e r v a l s throughout the f i l m . The r a i l w a y workers are t h e r e f o r e i n t e g r a t e d i n t o the backdrop as w e l l as f e a t u r i n g a t the f o r e f r o n t o f the a c t i o n . Jacques, f o r example, i s a major c h a r a c t e r and h i s f u n c t i o n as engine d r i v e r i s h i g h l i g h t e d , but other a s p e c t s o f r a i l w a y procedure are shown and add to the f i l m ' s documentary v a l i d i t y . Thus Pecqueux i s seen i n the shunting yard c l e a n i n g out the b o i l e r when Jacques walks a c r o s s to the o f f i c e to r e p o r t the damage to h i s engine. Renoir p a i n t s a p l e a s a n t p i c t u r e o f the working man as an i n d u s t r i o u s , t r u s t w o r t h y member of a t i g h t l y k n i t group. Indeed Pecqueux, with h i s " t e r r e - a - t e r r e " approach to l i f e , h i s disarming frankness about h i s p e c c a d i l l o e s and h i s concern f o r Jacques, i s the f o c a l p o i n t o f Renoir's p o r t r a y a l of the r a i l w a y workers. These agreeable images are due, a t l e a s t i n p a r t , to the d e p i c t i o n o f everyday "people" i n the context o f t h e i r working s i t u a t i o n . The n o v e l , f o r a l l Z o l a ' s e f f o r t s to reproduce an a u t h e n t i c environment, i s populated by the v i c t i m s of aberrant tendencies — a psychopath, pois o n e r , drunkard, and others o f e q u a l l y charming d i s p o s i t i o n — which, as p r e v i o u s l y s t a t e d , makes empathy i m p o s s i b l e . However, an a d d i t i o n a l f a c t o r should be taken i n t o account when c o n s i d e r i n g the a b i l i t y o f the 32 audience to r e l a t e to the f i l m c h a r a c t e r s . Renoir has updated the a c t i o n t o 1938, the e r a contemporanious w i t h the s h o o t i n g of the f i l m . The n o v e l , on the other hand, i s s e t e a r l i e r i n time as the events take p l a c e d u r i n g the c l o s e o f the Second Empire. Yet novel and f i l m share a common f e a t u r e . The e r a i n which each i s s e t saw a b u i l d up to war. The novel c l o s e s w i t h the image of Jacques's engine, unmanned and c a r e e r i n g headlong to d e s t r u c t i o n . An image which p a r a l l e l s France's plunge i n t o the F r a n c o - P r u s s i a n c o n f l i c t . When Renoir f i l m e d LA BETE HUMAINE the world stood once more on the b r i n k of armed h o s t i l i t i e s , but no a l l u s i o n i s made i n the f i l m to the storm clouds which were g a t h e r i n g over Europe. Renoir's updated v e r s i o n of La Be^te humaine e f f e c t i v e l y adds a t h i r d time frame to the two a l r e a d y a s s o c i a t e d with the novel — these being the e r a i n which a c t i o n i s s e t and the p e r i o d i n which Z o l a researched and composed the t e x t . The Second Empire p r o v i d e s the p o l i t i c a l / h i s t o r i c a l backdrop to the novel and i s r e f e r r e d to mainly i n the context of the j u d i c i a r y . Indeed, a t t e n t i o n to the p o l i t i c a l angle, e s p e c i a l l y when compared with the wealth of d e t a i l g i v e n about the r a i l w a y , i s c u r s o r y and l i m i t e d to a view of the regime's p r o f l i g a c y . In the f i l m the r a i l w a y continues to be the c h i e f s e t t i n g . But Renoir, with the e x c e p t i o n of the i n t e r r o g a t i o n scene, i g n o r e s the j u d i c i a l aspect of the n o v e l , c o n c e n t r a t i n g i n s t e a d on the mainstream of the p l o t . The d i r e c t o r d i d , however, share Z o l a ' s concern f o r 33 a u t h e n t i c i t y i n the p o r t r a y a l of the r a i l w a y m i l i e u . Sequences i n v o l v i n g t r a i n s were shot a t gare S t . Lazare and on a s t r e t c h of t r a c k between Le Havre and P a r i s . Alexander Sesonske d e s c r i b e s how Renoir and h i s team: . . . became students o f the "chemin de f e r , " determined to make a f i l m t h a t the "cheminots" would not disavow as f a l s e to t h e i r m e t i e r . With the c o o p e r a t i o n o f the n a t i o n a l r a i l r o a d , the S o c i e t e N a t i o n a l e de Chemin de f e r , and the r a i l r o a d workers' F e d e r a t i o n , they rode the engines, prowled the yards, watched the workings of the s t a t i o n . 1 ^ In a d d i t i o n , the SNCF put a locomotive and ten meters of t r a c k a t the f i l m crew's d i s p o s a l . Thus Renoir was ab l e to f i l m work scenes w i t h maximum a u t h e n t i c i t y and, of a l l the scenes shot, only Jacques's s u i c i d e was a mock up. Z o l a ' s method of composition and h i s o b s e r v a t i o n o f the t e c h n i c a l a s pects o f the r a i l w a y a t f i r s t hand (on 15th A p r i l 1889 he was permitted to t r a v e l aboard an engine) f i n d s a c o u n t e r p a r t i n Renoir's a t t e n t i o n to d e t a i l — a l b e i t t h a t the d i r e c t o r was motivated by a sense of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to the r a i l w a y workers. The r e s u l t , i n each case, i s p a r t i c u l a r l y e f f e c t i v e and there can be no doubt t h a t the d e t e r m i n a t i o n o f the film-maker and h i s team to understand and u t i l i z e the r o l l i n g 1 5 Alexander Sesonske, Jean Renoir The French F i l m s , 1924-1939 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1980), p. 353. 34 stock g r e a t l y enhanced the impact o f the f i l m . The f a c t t h a t Renoir was a b l e to use the f a c i l i t i e s o f f e r e d by the SNCF i n d i c a t e s that the technology i n v o l v e d had a l t e r e d l i t t l e s i n c e Z o l a ' s time. The l a t e r advent of h i g h powered d i e s e l t r a i n s and concomitant changes i n working methods means t h a t i t would be very d i f f i c u l t to f i l m La Be"te humaine today. Indeed, i t i s Z o l a ' s p r e o c c u p a t i o n with t e c h n o l o g i c a l advance, expressed through h i s documentary approach to the r a i l w a y , which i s foremost among the elements t h a t now date the n o v e l , p r e c i s e l y because the procedures i t p o r t r a y s have been overtaken by p r o g r e s s . Some c r i t i c s , n o t a b l y those to the l e f t o f the establishment, c r i t i c i z e d Renoir f o r what they c o n s i d e r e d h i s t o t a l d i s r e g a r d of Z o l a ' s p o l i t i c a l stance i n the n o v e l . C e r t a i n l y , Z o l a does a t t a c k the c o r r u p t system i n o p e r a t i o n under the emperor Napoleon I I I and h i s a d m i n i s t r a t o r s . Grandmorin e x e m p l i f i e s a h i g h r a n k i n g c i t i z e n and one honored by the regime ye t who i s a moral degenerate i n h i s p r i v a t e l i f e . But although Z o l a u n d e r l i n e s some of the i n e q u i t i e s of the system wi t h heavy penstrokes, i t s t i l l would not be X D F r a n c o i s P o u l l e i n Renoir 1938, ou Jean Renoir pour r i e n , enqu@te sur un c i n d a s t e ( P a r i s : E d i t i o n s du C e r f , 1969) i s e s p e c i a l l y dismayed by Renoir's p o r t r a y a l of Cabuche, e x c l a i m i n g : "Car s i l e personnage de Cabuche n'est p l u s une source d'emotion ou de r e v o l t e , s ' i l d o i t provoquer 1'attendrissement ou l e r i r e , a l o r s 1'Edifice t r a g i q u e de Z o l a s ' ^ c r o u l e " (p. 49). And i t should be noted t h a t f o r t h i s c r i t i c tragedy i n La B&te humaine l i e s i n h i s view of the work as ". . . une deVionciation de 1 ' a l i e n a t i o n de 1'homme dans l a s o c i d t ^ i n d u s t r i e l l e " (p. 51). 35 c o r r e c t to make s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m the h i n g e p i n of the n o v e l . E v i l i s d e p i c t e d but i n such a way th a t i t i s taken beyond the scope of one p a r t i c u l a r time and p l a c e and a m p l i f i e d t o mythic p r o p o r t i o n s . The process by which t h i s a m p l i f i c a t i o n i s achieved p r o v i d e s the s u b j e c t , i n p a r t , of Chapter Four o f t h i s study. S u f f i c e i t to say, f o r the moment, t h a t any attempt to present the novel p r i m a r i l y i n the l i g h t o f a s o c i a l c r i t i q u e f a i l s to do j u s t i c e to the savage beauty o f some of i t s images which, a t the l a s t , transcend even the author's i n t e n t i o n to harness them to a p a r t i c u l a r d o c t r i n e or theory. Renoir's response to Zo l a ' s emphatic p o r t r a y a l of the darkest s i d e of human nature was, seemingly, a move i n the oppo s i t e d i r e c t i o n . The images he pr e s e n t s — F l o r e a t the p o o l , Pecqueux r e c o u n t i n g an anecdote to f e l l o w workers i n the canteen — have a f a r p l e a s a n t e r f l a v o r . N e c e s s i t y accounts, i n p a r t , f o r the change. I t was imp o s s i b l e to p o r t r a y c h a r a c t e r s on scree n i n the s p e c i f i c p h y s i c a l molds used by Z o l a . F u r t h e r , the l i n k between appearance and behavior assumed by the author would, i f t r a n s l a t e d onto f i l m , have r e s u l t e d i n a h o r r o r movie of the f i r s t order even by present-day standards. Notwithstanding the f a c t t h a t the r a t i o n a l e p r o v i d e d by the p r e s e n t a t i o n of a re s p e c t e d s c h o o l of thought i n the f i e l d o f c r i m i n a l s c i e n c e no longer e x i s t e d i n the 1930s as Lombroso's t h e o r i e s were, by t h i s time, o b s o l e t e . Yet, n e c e s s i t y a s i d e , Renoir's p o r t r a y a l of the 36 c h a r a c t e r s suggests a s p e c i f i c approach to t h e i r f u n c t i o n s . H i s treatment of Pecqueux and the change i n the fireman's r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Jacques i s a f i n e example. Pecqueux, i t was p r e v i o u s l y noted, c o u n t e r p o i n t s the somber Jacques, j u s t as the s u n l i t scene a t the pool i s a prelude to the dark onrush of Jacques's f u r y when he begins to s t r a n g l e F l o r e . C l e a r l y , the c o n t r a s t of l i g h t and dark i s a f a c e t of Renoir's d i r e c t i o n which extends beyond the c h a r a c t e r s and may provide a c l u e to h i s o v e r a l l c o n c e p t i o n of the f i l m , a p o i n t which w i l l be developed l a t e r . The e f f e c t of Renoir's c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n on the thematic content of the f i l m i s , however, an immediate c o n s i d e r a t i o n and one which w i l l be examined i n Chapter Two. 37 Chapter Two Action Action i n La Bete humaine i s unrelentingly s i m i l a r . The novel i s constructed around a series of murders and violent deaths, thus: Roubaud (and Severine) murder Grandmorin; Misard murders his wife, Phasie; Jacques attempts to murder Flore; Jacques and Severine attempt to murder Roubaud; Flore sets out to murder Jacques and Severine, f a i l s and then k i l l s h erself; Jacques murders SeVerine; Pecqueux attacks Jacques and both are k i l l e d . This resume leaves no doubt that murder i s the primary component of action i n the novel. Each character i s subject to an i d e n t i c a l process by which he, or she, begins as aggressor and ends as victim. Even Misard who l i v e s on a f t e r he has k i l l e d Phasie, does so i n the grip of a mania r e s u l t i n g from his i n a b i l i t y to f i n d her savings, a mania which i n the end destroys his sanity. The figure of the hereditary k i l l e r lurks at the heart of t h i s welter of dark deeds. Jacques does not k i l l u n t i l the narrative reaches i t s f i n a l stages. The imminence of h is loss of control provides the thread of suspense which Zola unwinds throughout the novel and tightens u n t i l i t reaches breaking point i n chapter eleven, when Severine dies at Jacques's hands. Jacques's compulsion i s demonstrated as early as the second chapter when his sexual onslaught upon 38 F l o r e changes c h a r a c t e r and he i s tempted i n s t e a d to k i l l her: Une f u r e u r semblait l e prendre, une f ^ r o c i t e qui l e f a i s a i t chercher des yeux, autour de l u i , une arme, une p i e r r e , quelque chose e n f i n pour l a t u e r . (pp. 96-97) The background to t h i s manic urge to k i l l i s e x p l a i n e d s h o r t l y a f t e r w a r d s . Jacques, exhausted by h i s f r e n z i e d race a c r o s s the h i l l y c o u n t r y s i d e around the Croix-de-Maufras, c o l l a p s e s beside the t r a c k . Into Jacques's subsequent thoughts the author i n c o r p o r a t e s a d e s c r i p t i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r ' s f a m i l y h i s t o r y , c a r e f u l l y i n s e r t i n g him i n t o the genealogy o f the Rougon-Macquart s e r i e s as the t h i r d son o f Gerv a i s e and L a n t i e r . A l a s t minute a d d i t i o n to the f a m i l y , i n f a c t , brought about by the need f o r a t o t a l l y new ch a r a c t e r to embody such an all-consuming compulsion. The ex p l a n a t i o n then c o n t i n u e s : La f a m i l l e n ' e t a i t guere d'aplomb, beaucoup a v a i e n t une f e l u r e . L u i , a c e r t a i n e s heures, l a s e n t a i t b i e n , c e t t e f e l u r e h6r£ditaire; non pas q u ' i l f u t d'une sant6 mauvaise, c a r 1'apprehension et l a honte de ces c r i s e s 1'avaient s e u l e s m a i g r i a u t r e f o i s ; mais c ' e t a i e n t , dans son 6tre, de s u b i t e s p e r t e s d ' ^ q u i l i b r e , comme des cassu r e s , des tr o u s par l e s q u e l s son moi l u i echappait, au m i l i e u d'une s o r t e de grande fum^e qui d eformait t o u t . I I ne s ' a p p a r t e n a i t p l u s , i l o b ^ i s s a i t a ses muscles, a l a b§te enrag^e. Pourtant, i l ne b u v a i t pas, i l se r e f u s a i t meme un p e t i t v e r r e d' eau-de-vie, ayant remarque^ que l a moindre goutte d ' a l c o o l l e r e n d a i t f o u . Et 39 i l en venait a penser q u ' i l payait pour les autres, les peres, les grands-peres, qui avaient bu, les generations d'ivrognes dont i l £tait le sang gatd, un lent empoisonnement, une sauvagerie qui le ramenait avec les loups mangeurs de femmes, au fond des bois . . . . Puisqu'il ne les connaissait pas, quelle fureur p o u v a i t - i l avoir contre e l l e s ? car, chaque f o i s , c ' e t a i t comme une soudaine c r i s e de rage aveugle, une s o i f toujours renaissante de venger des offenses tres anciennes, dont i l aurait perdu l'exacte memoire. Cela v e n a i t - i l done de s i l o i n , du mal que les femmes avaient f a i t a sa race, de l a rancune amass^e de male en mSle, depuis l a premiere tromperie au fond des cavernes? Et i l sentait aussi, dans son acces, une ndcessite de b a t a i l l e pour conquerir l a femelle et l a dompter, le besoin perverti de l a jeter morte sur son dos, a i n s i qu'une proie qu'on arrache aux autres, a jamais. Son craYie e'clatait sous 1'effort, i l n ' a r r i v a i t pas a se repondre, trop ignorant, p e n s a i t - i l , le cerveau trop sourd, dans cette angoisse d'un homme pousse a. des actes ou sa volonte n ' e t a i t pour r i e n , et dont l a cause en l u i avait disparu. (pp. 98-99) It i s necessary to quote the passage r e l a t i n g to Jacques's atavism at such length i n order to demonstrate the variety of elements that the author suggests as the possible source of Jacques's mania. The passage begins with a reference to heredity (the f i r s t element); Jacques's suffering i t seems i s transmitted g e n e t i c a l l y . He i s the victim of a "felure h£reditaire." From his drink sodden ancestors — "les generations d'ivrognes dont i l e t a i t le sang gate" — Zola moves on to talk of "une sauvagerie qui le ramenait avec les loups mangeurs de femmes, au fond des bois." The second element i s then a move even further back i n time to an age of pr e h i s t o r i c savagery when man existed on a par with the beasts. So f a r the progression — or rather, 40 r e g r e s s i o n — has shown a c e r t a i n l o g i c , however a t h i r d element i s about to be i n t r o d u c e d . Reference i s made to: "Une s o i f t o u j o u r s r e n a i s s a n t e de venger des o f f e n s e s t r e s anciennes." Thus the i d e a o f vengeance (the t h i r d element) as m o t i v a t i o n f o r the urge to k i l l i s suggested. But vengeance upon whom? The author continues, posing the q u e s t i o n : " C e l a v e n a i t - i l done de s i l o i n , du mal que l e s femmes a v a i e n t f a i t a sa race . . .?" The e x i s t e n c e o f one p a r t i c u l a r memory deeply i n g r a i n e d i n the subconscious o f a l l members of the male sex i s t h e r e f o r e i m p l i e d , a memory which not only separates them from but, e q u a l l y , opposes them to members of the female sex. T h i s memory r e f e r s to Eve and her i n v i t a t i o n to Adam to partake of the apple or, i n Zol a ' s words, " l a premiere tromperie au fond des cavernes." Z o l a , by i n c l u d i n g the r e f e r e n c e to the F a l l i n t h i s way, has engineered a f u s i o n o f elements. P h y s i o l o g i c a l r e g r e s s i o n has been i n t e r m i n g l e d w i t h myth. The f i r s t a c t of dec e p t i o n , a c c o r d i n g to Z o l a , took p l a c e not i n the Garden of Eden but i n the depths of a p r e h i s t o r i c cave. An a d d i t i o n a l element (the f o u r t h ) i s now d e s c r i b e d : "une n^cessite^ de b a t a i l l e pour c o n q u ^ r i r l a f e m e l l e et l a dompter, l e b e s o i n p e r v e r t i de l a j e t e r morte sur son dos." D e s i r e f o r vengeance i s succeeded by the urge to conquer and possess. Absolute p o s s e s s i o n i n the terms of aggressor and v i c t i m employed by Z o l a can o n l y mean death. Emphasis has s h i f t e d away from an h e r e d i t a r y f l a w o c c u r r i n g i n a g i v e n f a m i l y to a much wider sense of male 41 outrage a g a i n s t the female sex. The l a t t e r word i s , indeed, o f paramount importance. S-E-X, i t w i l l be seen, i s f a s t becoming the f o c a l p o i n t o f the i s s u e . Reference to the F a l l c o n jures an awareness o f O r i g i n a l S i n and a consequent aura of g u i l t . The next step i n Zola's scheme i s an e v o c a t i o n o f the l i b i d o i n i t s darkest form: the urge to o b l i t e r a t e the one possessed. The d e l i n e a t i o n o f the causes u n d e r l y i n g Jacques's "mal" i s , to say the l e a s t , complex and r a t h e r muddled. The genealogy o f the Rougons and the Macquarts fades i n t o the mis t s of man's p r e h i s t o r i c a n c e s t o r s . Somewhere along t h i s tenuous l i n e woman becomes the v i c t i m o f a primeval sense o f male f u r y . A c a u s a l l i n k i s then made between v i c t i m and c u l p r i t . C u l p a b i l i t y i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the lapse i n t o c a r n a l knowledge. Man and woman are now separate and opposed. The sense of male outrage i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a s p e c i f i c grudge a g a i n s t woman and the male turns a g a i n s t womankind i n a f u r y o f rampant l i b i d o . Z o l a has c o n s t r u c t e d a sequence o f r e f e r e n c e s which, by t h e i r j u x t a p o s i t i o n , resonate with symbolic meaning. Anthropology: primeval man — an embodiment of raw power. Myth: the f i r s t Man — deceived by Woman, the r e s u l t e v i l / s e x , the p r i c e death. The l a t t e r a l l u s i o n merges wit h the e v o c a t i o n o f the savage male f o r c e , the ungovernable hunger to possess and des t r o y . The consequence o f the s p i n n i n g o f t h i s v e r i t a b l e web of a s s o c i a t i o n s i s the f o r g i n g o f an i n d e l i b l e l i n k between sex and death. "Amour-mort" become two f a c e s o f one c o i n . 42 Murder, therefore, acquires an additional perspective. It i s (with the sole exception of the murder of Phasie) motivated by jealousy. And, the point must be underlined, jealousy a r i s i n g not from love but from passion. Throughout La Bete humaine the act of murder i s formulated i n the context of physical desire, thus: Roubaud desires SeVerine, she refuses him and her resistance leads to the confession of the nature of her r e l a t i o n s h i p with Grandmorin; SeVerine's increasingly passionate response to Jacques prompts her to seek a f i n a l solution to the problem of her husband's presence; Flore desires Jacques, she discovers the engine driver and SeVerine locked i n an embrace and i s racked with jealousy; Jacques sleeps with Philomene and the couple are caught "en flagrant d e l i t " by Pecqueux who erupts into a jealous fury. Jealousy/desire i s obviously the "force motrice" f o r murder and one can see how t h i s outline interconnects with the resume* of action given on page 38 of t h i s study. SeVerine confesses her a f f a i r with Grandmorin and Roubaud murders him; Flore discovers Jacques and Severine's l i a i s o n and causes t h e i r t r a i n to crash; Pecqueux surprises Jacques with PhilomSne and the two men f i g h t and die. The nature of the action i n La Bete humaine may now be re-evaluated. Murder i s indeed a primary component of action i n the novel, however death, i t has been demonstrated, i s inseparable from sex. Accordingly, i t would be more accurate to say that sexual desire and an associated urge to k i l l 43 comprise the source of the novel's action. Physical desire has been described i n t h i s study as the context f o r murder and the statement may now be r e c a l l e d i n a more l i t e r a l sense. The setting f o r Severine's confession of her l i a i s o n with Grandmorin i s V i c t o i r e ' s l i v i n g quarters — a sort of bedsit with table, stove and, of course, bed. Alone with Severine i n the intimate atmosphere of the room, Roubaud becomes aroused: Peu *h peu, sans une parole, i l l ' a v a i t envelopee d'une caresse plus e t r o i t e , excite par l a ti^deur de ce corps jeune, q u ' i l tenait a i n s i a pleins bras. E l l e le g r i s a i t de son odeur, e l l e achevait d' a f f o l e r son desir, en cambrant les reins pour se degager. D'une secousse, i l l'enleva de l a fene^tre, dont i l referma les v i t r e s du coude. Sa bouche avait rencontre^ l a sienne, i l l u i ecrasait les l'evres, i l l'emportait vers le l i t . (p. 66) But his lust i s denied and quickly gives way to violence: "D'un bond, i l fut de nouveau sur e l l e , le poing en l ' a i r ; et, furieusement, d'un seul coup, pres de l a table, i l l'abbatit" (pp. 68-69). Jacques and SeVerine spend the night together and once more the setting i s V i c t o i r e ' s quarters (chapter seven). Unable to r e s t r a i n the urge to share her Denis de Rougemont i n his work L'Amour et 1'Occident (Paris: U.G.E., 1962) examines the recurrent association of death with desire i n Western culture and traces i t s origins to the influence of the troubadours and the sublimation of profane love as i t occurred i n the r i t u a l s and t r a d i t i o n s of "1'amour courtois." 44 g u i l t w i t h Jacques, SeVerine d e s c r i b e s Grandmorin's murder. As her " r e c i t " (and " r e c i t " i s indeed the c o r r e c t d e s c r i p t i o n f o r the v i v i d f i r s t person account g i v e n by s e v e r i n e ) reaches i t s climax: " I l s se possed^rent, r e t r o u v a n t l'amour au fond de l a mort, dans l a mê me volupte douloureuse des bei;es q u i s'eventrent pendant l e r u t " (p. 257). Afterwards Jacques i s t o r t u r e d by the r e s u r r e c t i o n of h i s "mal" and i n order to spare s e v e r i n e , goes out i n search of a v i c t i m . Once more l u s t i s succeeded by an impulse to k i l l . In the l a t t e r i n s t a n c e an impulse which i s t r a n s l a t e d i n t o a c t i o n i n chapter eleven, when the l o c a t i o n i s once more a bedroom — the "chambre rouge" a t the Croix-de-Maufras. The r e c u r r e n c e of a p a r t i c u l a r type of s e t t i n g , a bedroom f o r i n s t a n c e , suggests the r e c u r r e n c e of a p a r t i c u l a r type of a c t i o n . However, Z o l a ' s c h a r a c t e r s do not simply go to bed. A r o u s a l and the sexual a c t i t s e l f are d e s c r i b e d i n the most e x p l i c i t terms. The scene i n which Roubaud's l u s t i s k i n d l e d i n c l u d e s a number of s p e c i f i c p h y s i c a l d e t a i l s : " E l l e l e g r i s a i t de son odeur, e l l e a c h e v a i t d ' a f f o l e r son d e s i r , en cambrant l e s r e i n s . . . . " And Jacques and s e v e r i n e ' s union i s evoked i n g r o s s l y p h y s i c a l , even b e s t i a l terms as the couple are compared with "des b£tes q u i s'dventrent pendant l e r u t . " A c t i o n i n La B@te humaine i s t h e r e f o r e not o n l y v i o l e n t i n nature, i t s e v o c a t i o n i s achieved through the use of terms which are u n r e m i t t i n g l y p h y s i c a l and o f t e n of an extreme b r u t a l i t y . An a d d i t i o n a l f a c t o r c o n t r i b u t e s to the shocking nature 45 of Zola's portrayal of sex and death. Violent acts accumulate as the novel progresses. The characters experience l u s t , jealousy, rage, suspicion. However, one pa r t i c u l a r emotion i s notable f o r i t s absence. Remorse i s not included i n the limited range of the protagonists' emotions. For example, Roubaud's existence continues a f t e r he has murdered Grandmorin "sans un remords." The deputy station-master has i n fac t sunk into a lethargic state of t o t a l indifference: " i l s'en a l l a i t de son pas alourdi, le dos i n d i f f e r e n t " (p. 294). Jacques, on the other hand, f e e l s p o s i t i v e l y exuberant. Aboard his new engine, three months af t e r murdering SeVerine, he g l o r i e s i n the sweetness of the night: . . . cette n u i t - l a , le c i e l d t a i t d'une douceur s i delicieuse, q u ' i l se sentait porte a 1'indulgence, l a laissant galoper un peu a sa fa n t a i s i e , heureux lui-meme de respir e r largement. Jamais i l ne s' e t a i t mieux porte 1, sans remords, l ' a i r soulagd, dans une grande paix heureuse. (p. 353) He even "experiments" by sleeping with Philomene i n order to put his cure to the test: Et i l n'y avait pas eu l a seulement une minute de c u r i o s i t e sensuelle . . . Deux f o i s d6ja, i l 1'avait eue, et ri e n , pas un malaise, pas un f r i s s o n . Sa grande j o i e , son a i r apaise et r i a n t devait venir, m§me a son insu, du bonheur de n'etre plus qu'un homme comme les autres. (pp. 353-354) 46 The amount of v i o l e n c e d e p i c t e d i n the n o v e l , coupled w i t h the rank c a l l o u s n e s s e x h i b i t e d by the c h a r a c t e r s , suggests a p a r t i c u l a r aim on the p a r t of the author. Ther e f o r e i t i s h a r d l y s u r p r i s i n g to d i s c o v e r t h a t Z o l a s e t out to c r e a t e a "drame v i o l e n t a donner l e cauchemar a tout P a r i s , " and there can be no doubt t h a t he was s u c c e s s f u l . Long a f t e r the l a s t page has been turned, images of Severine's s h a t t e r e d body r e t u r n to haunt the memory and the thunderous passage of the runaway troop t r a i n echoes i n the mind as i t h u r t l e s ever onwards towards a crescendo of d e s t r u c t i o n . * * * In the f i l m a c t i o n i s presented q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y . Indeed, having noted Renoir's treatment of the c h a r a c t e r s , one should be prepared f o r a s i g n i f i c a n t change i n approach to the p r e s e n t a t i o n of events. F i r s t of a l l , a c t i o n i s reduced to a core comprising: the murder of Grandmorin by Roubaud (and S e v e r i n e ) ; the attempted murder of Roubaud by Jacques (and S e v e r i n e ) ; the murder of SeVerine by Jacques. The branch of the p l o t which r e l a t e s to the Misards has been completely pruned away and the focus i s now on Roubaud, Severine and Jacques. Murder s t i l l appears to be the 18 Emile Z o l a , L e t t e r s to J . Van Santen K o l f f , ed. R. J . N i e s s ( S t . L o u i s : Washington U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1940), p. 338. 47 c h i e f component of a c t i o n , j e a l o u s y the m o t i v a t i n g f o r c e , however here c o i n c i d e n c e w i t h the novel ends. An examination of the a c t of murder as i t i s presented by Renoir w i l l demonstrate the d i f f e r e n c e . The f i r s t murder, t h a t o f Grandmorin, takes p l a c e on a t r a i n . The p r e s i d e n t opens the door of h i s p r i v a t e compartment and h i s s u r p r i s e at seei n g Severine turns to alarm as Roubaud pushes her forward, j o s t l e s Grandmorin back i n t o the compartment and q u i c k l y c l o s e s the door, snapping the b l i n d shut i n the same movement. The camera continues to focus on the s h u t t e r e d door and the s t r e t c h o f empty c o r r i d o r ; the soundtrack r i s e s to a crescendo. The r a t t l e and r o a r of the t r a i n combine with i n t e r m i t t e n t f l a s h e s o f l i g h t to produce a s e n s a t i o n o f e s c a l a t i n g speed. The door opens. Roubaud shoves Severine out i n t o the c o r r i d o r , he h i m s e l f backs from the compartment moving as i f s k i r t i n g an o b j e c t on the f l o o r . The f r a n t i c rush o f the t r a i n , suggested by the i n t e r p l a y o f l i g h t and sound, slows to a s t e a d i e r pace. The couple r e t u r n to t h e i r c a r r i a g e . The murder of Severine i s staged i n the Roubauds* apartment. A f t e r an evening o f dancing a t the " b a l des cheminots" — a s o c i a l aspect o f the railwaymen 1s l i v e s i n t r o d u c e d by the d i r e c t o r — Severine has t o l d Jacques that she cannot continue s e e i n g him and he understands t h a t the removal of Roubaud i s the c o n d i t i o n upon which the c o n t i n u a t i o n o f t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p depends. He determines to commit the murder and f o l l o w s Severine home to t e l l her of 48 h i s r e s o l u t i o n . As they t a l k someone i s heard ascending the s t a i r s , the couple assume i t i s Roubaud. SeVerine e x t i n g u i s h e s the l i g h t and k i s s e s Jacques. H i s c o n t r o l snaps. A b r i e f s t r u g g l e ensues d u r i n g which Severine's v o i c e , s h r i l l w i t h s u r p r i s e , cuts a c r o s s the s i l e n c e . She c o l l a p s e s onto the bed and Jacques s t a r e s down at her l i f e l e s s form before d i s c a r d i n g the k n i f e and running from the room. Most n o t a b l e about Renoir's p r e s e n t a t i o n of murder i s p r e c i s e l y the way i n which he does not present i t . In each case the d i r e c t o r a voids showing the a c t of murder. A c l o s e d door i s i n t e r p o s e d between the camera and the assumed a c t of v i o l e n c e w h i l e an atmosphere of t e n s i o n i s c r e a t e d by the use of l i g h t and sound e f f e c t s . Jacques turns upon Severine and h i s movements are cloaked by the darkness i n t o which she has j u s t plunged the room. A s c u f f l e , a c r y and the deed i s done. The same approach can be d e t e c t e d i n the d i r e c t o r ' s treatment, or non-treatment, of sex. The consummation of Jacques and SeVerine's r e l a t i o n s h i p takes p l a c e , o r i g i n a l l y , i n a shed. T h i s i s a l s o the case i n the f i l m but the camera does not f o l l o w them through the door. When Severine t e l l s Jacques about Grandmorin's murder the s e t t i n g i s , l i k e the n o v e l , V i c t o i r e ' s rooms. The couple embrace but soon SeVerine begins to t a l k of the time when she was w i t h Roubaud i n the same room. With b a r e l y concealed a v i d i t y Jacques q u e s t i o n s her about the murder, and as the d e t a i l s emerge he a b r u p t l y h i des h i s f a c e . S t a r t l e d , 49 SeVerine asks what i s wrong, but he soothes her f e a r s and the moment passes. T h i s scene d e p i c t s the re-awakening of the beast and, i n the n o v e l , h i g h l i g h t s the v i s c e r a l q u a l i t y of the l i n k between death and d e s i r e . S e V e r i n e 1 s words mingle w i t h the p h y s i c a l e x p r e s s i o n of her d e s i r e f o r Jacques, and the a c t of c o n f e s s i o n combines w i t h the c h a r a c t e r s ' sexual c o u p l i n g to c r e a t e a t e r r i b l e v o r t ex which threatens to overwhelm even Se v e r i n e : Le f r i s s o n du d ^ s i r se p e r d a i t dans cet a u t r e f r i s s o n de mort, revenu en e l l e . C e t a i t , comme au fond de toute v o l u p t e , une agonie q u i recommencait. Un i n s t a n t , e l l e r e s t a suffoqu^e par une s e n s a t i o n r a l e n t i e de v e r t i g e . (p. 249) Renoir's approach to the scene i s an a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t matter. Gone the v i v i d l y phrased c o n f e s s i o n whispered between k i s s e s i n the shadows of the n i g h t , i n i t s p l a c e a c o n v e r s a t i o n which i s p o s i t i v e l y sedate by comparison, conducted f u l l y c l o t h e d and i n broad d a y l i g h t . Jacques's eagerness to know the d e t a i l s , h i s b r e a t h l e s s c o n c e n t r a t i o n r e c a l l h i s c o n d i t i o n but the a s s o c i a t i o n of "amour-mort" t h a t i s the crux of the scene i n the novel i s e n t i r e l y absent, a p o i n t which i s f u r t h e r borne out by Jacques's d i s m i s s a l of h i s c o n d i t i o n as an i n c l i n a t i o n to s p e l l s of m e l a n c h o l i a — ". . . l e s coups de t r i s t e s s e qui me rendent t e r r i b l e m e n t malheureux, dont j e ne p u i s s e p a r l e r " ( d i r e c t 50 t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) . One can only conclude t h a t Renoir's beast i s an e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t animal from that p o r t r a y e d by Z o l a . Yet Jacques i s s t i l l the v i c t i m of a compulsion to k i l l and, s p e c i f i c a l l y , a compulsion to k i l l women. The q u e s t i o n must then a r i s e : how d i d the d i r e c t o r p o r t r a y Jacques's mania? The c l u e l i e s i n Jacques's r e a c t i o n to SeVerine's d e s c r i p t i o n o f her f e e l i n g s a t the moment of Grandmorin's death. As she exclaims: "C'est a f f r e u x ! J ' a i p l u s v£cu dans c e t t e minute-Ik que dans toute ma v i e passee" ( d i r e c t t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) , he hides h i s f a c e . T h i s gesture i s l i n k e d w i t h an a c t i o n which i s common to each murder, or attempted murder, scene. SeVerine has j u s t t o l d her husband t h a t she has r e f u s e d an i n v i t a t i o n to her guardian's chateau, and Roubaud t h i n k s her r e l u c t a n c e i s due to a f e a r that she should be mistaken f o r Grandmorin's i l l e g i t i m a t e daughter. SeVerine i s h o r r i f i e d by t h i s s u g g e s t i o n and rushes to the m i r r o r . While she makes an anxious examination o f her f e a t u r e s Roubaud takes her i n h i s arms. R e j e c t i o n and r e v e l a t i o n f o l l o w one upon the other with SeVerine b l u r t i n g out her d i s t a s t e f o r men because " i l s ne pensent qu'a ga" ( d i r e c t t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) , and, i n the next breath, her d i s l i k e o f the r i n g g i v e n to her by Grandmorin. Roubaud i s , o f course, quick to make the a s s o c i a t i o n . Jacques and SeVerine s t a l k t h e i r intended v i c t i m a c r o s s the d e s e r t e d shunting y a r d . Jacques stoops to p i c k up an i r o n bar and as he does so, c o n f r o n t s h i s own image r e f l e c t e d i n a pool o f water. He f r e e z e s and the i n s t a n t i s a s s o c i a t e d with h i s l a t e r i n a b i l i t y to s t r i k e when Roubaud c r o s s e s the yard . SeVerine i s dead. Jacques s t a r e s down a t her then t u r n s to l e a v e . As he passes the d r e s s e r he catches s i g h t o f h i s co n t o r t e d f e a t u r e s i n a m i r r o r and f l e e s , h o r r o r s t r i c k e n , i n t o the n i g h t . The m i r r o r p r o v i d e s the means of e x p r e s s i n g a sudden rush o f s e l f awareness. SeVerine seeks c o n f i r m a t i o n o f Roubaud's a s s e r t i o n that she co u l d be Grandmorin's daughter, and the r e a l i z a t i o n f i l l s her with h o r r o r f o r then her i l l i c i t r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Grandmorin would be not onl y a d u l t e r o u s but a l s o i n c e s t u o u s . D i s g u s t w e l l s up i n her and overflows i n a gesture o f r e v u l s i o n which a l e r t s her husband to the t r u t h . Jacques sees h i m s e l f on the b r i n k o f t a k i n g a l i f e and the r e a l i z a t i o n o f what he i s about to do st a y s h i s hand. However, r e a l i z a t i o n comes too l a t e to save SeVerine. Jacques only becomes conscious o f what he has done afterwards when he r e c o g n i z e s the r e f l e c t i o n i n the m i r r o r as h i s own, and t h i s i n s t a n t of r e v e l a t i o n r e c a l l s t h a t other moment when he sought to conceal h i s f e a t u r e s i n an attempt to escape the knowledge t h a t h i s malaise had r e t u r n e d to t o r t u r e him. Awareness b r i n g s with i t an overwhelming sense of remorse. Yet can one r e a l l y assume so much from t h a t one b r i e f i n s t a n t when the engine d r i v e r s t a r e s i n t o the m i r r o r ? Perhaps not, however the f i l m ' s ending leaves no room f o r doubt. Jacques commits s u i c i d e . A b r i e f e x t r a c t from the novel i s presented i n the gu i s e of a p r e f a c e to the f i l m . I t i s taken from the passage r e l a t i n g to Jacques's atavism however, by q u o t i n g piecemeal, the d i r e c t o r has completely changed the emphasis and the passage now seems to a n t i c i p a t e Jacques's s u i c i d e : L u i , a c e r t a i n e s heures, l a s e n t a i t b i e n , c e t t e f e l u r e h e r ^ d i t a i r e . Et i l en v e n a i t a penser q u ' i l p a y a i t pour l e s a u t r e s , l e s peres, l e s grands-peres, q u i a v a i e n t bu, l e s ge n e r a t i o n s d'ivrognes dont i l e t a i t l e sang gate. Son crSne ^ c l a t a i t sous 1 ' e f f o r t dans l ' a n g o i s s e d'un homme pousse a des a c t e s ou sa v o l o n t e n ' ^ t a i t pour r i e n , et dont l a cause en l u i a v a i t d i s p a r u . ( d i r e c t t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) The r e f e r e n c e t o h e r e d i t y remains, indeed the focus has s h i f t e d to t h i s a s p e c t . Jacques's c o n d i t i o n i s a t t r i b u t e d to an i l l n e s s i n h e r i t e d from members of p r e v i o u s g e n e r a t i o n s o f h i s f a m i l y , but now the accent i s on i t s source as a mental a b e r r a t i o n r a t h e r than a p h y s i o l o g i c a l compulsion. J a c q u e s . i t seems, i s a t the mercy of f o r c e s i n the g r i p o f which he commits "des a c t e s ou sa v o l o n t e n ' ^ t a i t pour r i e n " . U l t i m a t e l y he i s pushed beyond the l i m i t s of endurance — " S o n crane e c l a t a i t sous 1 ' e f f o r t " — and s e l f - d e s t r u c t i o n becomes i n e v i t a b l e . The d i r e c t o r has completely erased the premise upon which the novel i s based, namely the embodiment of r e g r e s s i v e f o r c e s i n members of modern c i v i l i z a t i o n , y e t as the t e x t fades i t i s r e p l a c e d by a p i c t u r e o f the author beneath which the s i g n a t u r e Emile Z o l a appears. The w i l y 53 Renoir i s not o n l y a t t r i b u t i n g the q u o t a t i o n , he i s s e t t i n g a s e a l of a u t h e n t i c i t y on h i s own work. Whether one approves or disapproves Renoir's v e r s i o n , the shot of the august author c e r t a i n l y lends i t an a i r of assurance a t the o u t s e t . The t o n a l i t i e s of book and f i l m vary g r e a t l y . Red, the shade of f r e s h l y s p i l t blood, and b l a c k , the c o l o r of darkest n i g h t , are the predominant hues of the n o v e l . However, the f i l m i s s t a r k e r . The sharpness of Renoir's p r e s e n t a t i o n and the c o n t r a s t of b l a c k and white a r i s i n g from the medium i t s e l f combine to make i t so. Much i s omitted and the f i l m immediately gains i n c o n c i s e n e s s . Events are presented i n q u i c k - f i r e s u c c e s s i o n , producing an unequivocal c a u s a l sequence t h a t gathers pace from the opening shots of Jacques and Pecqueux on the home s t r e t c h to gare St. Lazare through to Jacques's leap from h i s engine on the very same s t r e t c h of t r a c k . Yet, d e s p i t e the d i r e c t o r ' s avoidance of the b l a t a n t b r u t a l i t y i n t r i n s i c to the n o v e l , h i s approach was r e c e i v e d w i t h as much h o r r o r i n c e r t a i n q u a r t e r s as i f he had emulated Z o l a ' s o r i g i n a l i n t e n t i o n to d i s t u r b the dreams of the people of P a r i s . "[LeJ f i l m l e p l u s degradant j u s q u • a l o r s . " Can such a d e s c r i p t i o n r e a l l y have been deemed a p p l i c a b l e to LA BETE HUMAINE, e s p e c i a l l y when one c o n s i d e r s how l i t t l e v i o l e n c e i s shown i n the f i l m compared to the content of the novel? Candel, r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of " l a Ligue de M o r a l i t y , " thought i t a p p l i c a b l e . Indeed, h i s views, which i n c l u d e the above r e a c t i o n to LA BETE HUMAINE, are couched i n the s t r o n g e s t terms: 54 Comprenez, Monsieur, l ' a c t u e l e s p r i t moral e s t assez t^nebreux, i l me semble i n u t i l e de l e galvauder davantage. Par consequent, i l ne t i e n t qu'h vous, par v o t r e s a i n e comprehension et v o t r e a t t i t u d e , de mettre entrave a ce courant m a l s a i n . La d i g n i t e de l a personne humaine e s t pour moi et pour b i e n d'autres, animus des memes sentiments, un r e f l e t t r e s p r e c i e u x dont nous exigeons l e r e s p e c t . Soyez persuad^ que je veux t r a i t e r i c i en ami s i n c e r e mais c e r t e s r e b e l l e â t o u t ce q u i compromet l a d e s t i n e e de toute p e r s o n n a l i t e . 1 9 A c c o r d i n g to Candel LA B£TE HUMAINE posed a r e a l t h r e a t to the moral f a b r i c o f s o c i e t y . But i n what way was LA BETE HUMAINE so demo r a l i z i n g ? And s u r e l y , i f such were the case, how much more u n d e s i r a b l e the o r i g i n a l must have been. In f a c t , LA BETE HUMAINE's supposed u n d e s i r a b i l i t y i s l o c a t e d p r e c i s e l y i n the areas where i t d i f f e r s most n o t a b l y from the n o v e l . The c h a r a c t e r s o f the novel are nothing more than an accumulation o f base i n s t i n c t s which i n v a r i a b l y f i n d e x p r e s s i o n i n v i o l e n c e . They are not approximations o f people but of throwbacks and are, by i m p l i c a t i o n , the ex c e p t i o n and not the r u l e . In the f i l m a c t i o n has another source: the i n t e r p l a y o f conscious and unconscious m o t i v a t i o n . Renoir's c h a r a c t e r s r e p r e s e n t human beings and each s u f f e r s from a f a t a l flaw. Renoir seems to have E x t r a c t from a l e t t e r i n c l u d e d i n a c o m p i l a t i o n o f a r t i c l e s and i n t e r v i e w s by Bernard Chardere e n t i t l e d "Jean R e n o i r , " Premier Plan, Nos. 22-24 (Lyon: S.E.R.D.O.C., 1962), p.272. 55 e f f e c t i v e l y s h ackled f r e e w i l l and l e f t humanity at the mercy of i t s darker impulses and t h i s , undoubtedly, i s the b a s i s f o r Candel's o b j e c t i o n . Thus Jacques i s seen to be the v i c t i m of darker f o r c e s w i t h i n h i s own psyche. He f i g h t s a g a i n s t h i s weakness... and l o s e s . La B£te humaine ends i n an orgy of d e s t r u c t i o n ; LA BETE HUMAINE c l o s e s w i t h shots of the t r a c k onto which Jacques has h u r l e d h i m s e l f . So, where the book d e s c r i b e s a p a r a b o l a , the f i l m i s c i r c u l a r ; where Zo l a ' s world i s bounded by g e n e t i c determinism, the p l i g h t o f Renoir's c h a r a c t e r s i s c a s t i n more e x i s t e n t i a l v e i n . They s t r u g g l e to c o n t r o l t h e i r d e s t i n i e s but cannot even master t h e i r own a c t i o n s a g a i n s t the backdrop of a world which appears implacable i n the f a c e of t h e i r s u f f e r i n g . Both book and f i l m are devoid of transcendence but, f i n a l l y , i t i s the f i l m which i s the more p e s s i m i s t i c . I t l a c k s the energy o f t h a t c l o s i n g rush to d e s t r u c t i o n , the open-endedness which, i n i t s own way, o f f e r s a c e r t a i n hope f o r renewal. Instead the f i l m c l o s e s on a scene of p a t h e t i c i r o n y . Jacques d e s t r o y s h i m s e l f , an a c t i o n e x p r e s s i n g d e s p a i r and u l t i m a t e f u t i l i t y . F u r t h e r , an o f f i c i a l i s shown i n s i s t i n g t h a t the body be c l e a r e d from the l i n e so t h a t the t r a i n s e r v i c e w i l l not be impeded. How much more can the importance of human l i f e be d i m i n i s h e d ! The beast i n La Bete humaine i s omnipresent, i n LA BETE HUMAINE the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of the t i t l e narrows c o n s i d e r a b l y and Jacques does seem to be the eponymous 56 c h a r a c t e r . Indeed, one soon begins to wonder whether there i s a beast i n the f i l m a t a l l . And, i f there i s , i t i s c e r t a i n l y not of the k i n d envisaged by Z o l a . I t i s a s u b t l e r , more p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y o r i e n t e d m a n i f e s t a t i o n — more the product, one c o u l d s p e c u l a t e , of the i n f l u e n c e of Freud than that o f Lombroso. 57 Chapter Three Space La Bete humaine i s based on r e l a t i o n s h i p s of i d e n t i t y . One i s c o n t i n u a l l y made aware of r e c i p r o c a l s t a t e s and s i t u a t i o n s . The c h a r a c t e r s who e x i s t w i t h i n the c o n f i n e s of t h e i r o bsessions are s i m i l a r l y trapped i n t h e i r p h y s i c a l environment. The c o u n t r y s i d e around the Croix-de-Maufras, w i t h i t s h i l l s and d i p s and bushes i n t o which Jacques stumbles a t every t u r n , i s a f i n e example. Yet t h i s and other d e s c r i p t i o n s exceed the l i m i t s of p a t h e t i c f a l l a c y . Z o l a i s not p r o j e c t i n g Jacques's mental s t a t e onto h i s surroundings, he i s drawing a p a r a l l e l between the two. A look a t an e a r l i e r passage w i l l serve to h i g h l i g h t the d i s t i n c t i o n . A f t e r Roubaud has d i s c o v e r e d SeVerine's i n f i d e l i t y he s t a r e s out i n t o the g a t h e r i n g dusk: . . . c ' 6 t a i t une c o n f u s i o n , a c e t t e heure t r o u b l e de 1*entre c h i e n et loup, et i l semblait que tout a l l a i t se b r i s e r , et tout p a s s a i t , se f r 6 l a i t , se ddgageait, du rrr̂ me mouvement doux et rampant, vague au fond du c r ^ p u s c u l e . . . . Quand Roubaud se r e t o u r n a , i l a v a i t l a f a c e £paisse et te'tue, comme envahie d'ombre par c e t t e n u i t q u i tombait. (p. 75) Roubaud i s p h y s i c a l l y i n f e c t e d by the darkness. The l i n e 58 which would normally separate the s p e c t a t o r from the scene i s absent, l e a v i n g i n s t e a d a s i t u a t i o n of e q u i v a l e n c e . The common denominator i s matter. Roubaud, l i k e h i s f e l l o w p r o t a g o n i s t s , was not c r e a t e d as a v e h i c l e f o r the examination of mental pro c e s s e s . He r e p r e s e n t s matter and i s t h e r e f o r e permeable. A c c o r d i n g to the author's scheme, e v e r y t h i n g i s reduced to one l e v e l — t h a t of c o r p o r e a l e x i s t e n c e . T h i s i s f e l t not only i n the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of p h y s i c a l elements, but a l s o i n the sense of p o l l u t i o n connected w i t h them. Matter has l i t t l e s t r u c t u r a l i n t e g r i t y ; i t can be penetrated and/or d i f f u s e d , so adding a c o l o r a t i o n t o , or assuming the c o l o r a t i o n o f, something e l s e . As inanimate and animate are i d e n t i f i e d on an equal b a s i s ( t h e i r m a t e r i a l i s m ) , Z o l a ' s f i c t i o n a l world i s i t s e l f imbued with a p r i m i t i v e l i f e f o r c e which i n t u r n c r e a t e s a sense of p e r v a s i v e menace. Throughout the novel a c t i o n takes p l a c e i n enclosed surroundings: V i c t o i r e ' s rooms, the employees' q u a r t e r s a t Le Havre, the M i s a r d s ' c o t t a g e , the o f f i c e s of the examining m a g i s t r a t e , the c a r r i a g e s and cabs of t r a i n s . . . However the s e n s a t i o n of being c l o s e d i n i s not l i m i t e d to i n t e r i o r scenes. On the o c c a s i o n of t h e i r f i r s t t r y s t , Severine h u r r i e s to meet Jacques: ". . . l a n u i t £tait sans lune, une n u i t de c i e l couvert, ou pas une ^ t o i l e ne l u i s a i t , sous l a brume ardente q u i a s s o u r d i s s a i t l e c i e l " (p. 196). The blackness i s almost p a l p a b l e as i t c l o s e s about them: " I I f a i s a i t s i sombre, q u ' e l l e 1 ' a u r a i t frbl6 sans l e 59 r e c o n n a i t r e , s ' i l ne l ' a v a i t arr£t£e dans ses bras, en l u i donnant un b a i s e r " (p. 196). E x t e r n a l environment i s c o n s i s t e n t l y p o r t r a y e d i n terms of a b a r r i e r . Nowhere i s t h i s more apparent than chapter seven when the L i s o n and "her" passengers are beset by snow and not the f l u f f y white f l a k e s o f a Christmas c a r d landscape but "dp a i s s e u r s b l a f a r d e s , " which r e s t r i c t v i s i o n and e v e n t u a l l y s e i z e the engine i n a d e a t h l y g r i p . The r e v e r s e s i d e o f the c o i n i s the c h a r a c t e r s ' d e s i r e f o r concealment. SeVerine, dressed a l l i n b l a c k , melts i n t o the shadows. She and Jacques s t r o l l a c r o s s the depot and among the maze of sheds and o u t b u i l d i n g s : " . . . r i e n n ' ^ t a i t p l u s f a c i l e que de se d i s s i m u l e r , de se perdre a i n s i qu'au fond d'un b o i s " (p. 197). Indeed, the impulse to hide i s a r e f l e x , a f a c t t h a t i n f e r s both g u i l t and the presence o f p r y i n g eyes. A c l o s e d door conceals and so may pro v i d e a refuge o f s o r t s but i t may, by the same token, conceal the l i s t e n e r on the other s i d e . The c o r r i d o r which d i v i d e s the employees' q u a r t e r s a t Le Havre i s f u l l o f f u r t i v e r u s t l i n g s : the g e n t l e c l i c k o f a l a t c h , the muted pad of carpet s l i p p e r s , then — s i l e n c e . But no! i s t h a t a h i s s of indrawn breath...? The s e n s a t i o n of being s p i e d upon q u i c k l y reaches paranoiac p r o p o r t i o n s . The l a t t e r i s a p a r t i c u l a r l y e f f e c t i v e aspect of the n o v e l . Z o l a s u c c e s s f u l l y conveys an atmosphere of voyeurism which extends beyond the c h a r a c t e r s and i s a m p l i f i e d i n t o a hugely i n i m i c a l presence. In the shunting yard Jacques and 60 SeVerine wait f o r Roubaud, i n t e n t upon h i s death. Once more the s e t t i n g i s deepest n i g h t . T h e i r f a c u l t i e s are heightened by the s t r o n g element of danger i n v o l v e d i n the a c t they contemplate: Le meurtre etait decide 1, i l l e u r sembla q u ' i l s ne marchaient p l u s , qu'une f o r c e etrangere l e s p o r t a i t au r a s du s o l . Leur sens a v a i e n t p r i s subitement une acuite 7 extreme, l e toucher s u r t o u t , c a r l e u r s mains l'une dans l ' a u t r e s • e n d o l o r i s s a i e n t , l e moindre ef f l e u r e m e n t de l e u r s l e v r e s devenait p a r e i l a un coup d'ongle. l i s entendaient a u s s i l e s b r u i t s q u i se p e r d a i e n t t o ut "a l'heure, l e roulement, l e s o u f f l e l o i n t a i n des machines, des chocs a s s o u r d i s , des pas e r r a n t s , au fond des tenebres. Et i l s v o y a i e n t l a n u i t , i l s d i s t i n g u a i e n t l e s taches n o i r e s des choses, comme s i un b r o u i l l a r d s'en etait alie de l e u r s p a u pieres . . . (p. 290) The n i g h t no longer c o n s t i t u t e s a b a r r i e r , t h e i r sharpened senses penetrate i t s blackness and t h e i r surroundings, a f f e c t e d by the t e n s i o n of the moment, assume a d i f f e r e n t a i r . Movement animates the darkness and i n the d i s t a n c e sound adds another dimension: Au l o i n , une machine s i f f l a i t , j e t a n t a l a n u i t une p l a i n t e de meiancolique d e t r e s s e ; a coups r e g u l i e r s , on e n t e n d a i t un f r a c a s , l e choc d'un marteau g£ant, venu on ne s a v a i t d'ou . . . (pp.290-291) In f a c t , the atmosphere of menace a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the f u r t i v e 61 couple has been magnified. Moreover, the d e s c r i p t i o n , c o n t a i n i n g the words " p l a i n t e " and "m^lancolique d ^ t r e s s e , " has an ominous q u a l i t y . when the author a l l u d e s to the pounding of a hammer "venu on ne s a v a i t d'ou," he i n d i c a t e s the mechanism behind the e f f e c t . Each p a r t of the d e s c r i p t i o n extends f u r t h e r i n t o the d i s t a n c e and each stage ( d i s t a n c e d p r o g r e s s i v e l y from the range of the p r o t a g o n i s t s ' v i s u a l p e r c e p t i o n ) becomes at the same time vaguer and l a r g e r . Thus the n o i s e o r i g i n a t e s from a g i a n t hammer the l o c a t i o n of which i s unknown. Because of i t s r e g u l a r i t y the sound i s r e m i n i s c e n t of a g i g a n t i c p u l s e . A l s o , because i t s o r i g i n i s surmised and not seen, the sound becomes d i s a s s o c i a t e d from an o b j e c t i v e source and assumes an independent e x i s t e n c e . A s s o c i a t e d , i n s t e a d , w i t h the darkness and the murderous i n t e n t i o n s of the human element, i t becomes p a r t of a brooding, malevolent presence. I t has been noted t h a t environment i s used to r e f l e c t the c h a r a c t e r s ' c o n s t r a i n t w i t h i n the bounds of t h e i r o b s e s s i o n s . Surroundings, whether n a t u r a l or man-made, are i n v a r i a b l y evoked i n terms of mass. Soon t h i s preponderance of matter becomes s t i f l i n g , so much so t h a t i t provokes a r e a c t i o n and the b u i l d up of pressure produces an e x p l o s i o n . The steam engine p r o v i d e s a d i r e c t p a r a l l e l because of the way i t f u n c t i o n s and the use to which i t i s put i n the n o v e l . Compression produces energy which i n t u r n produces movement, yet movement th a t i s channeled i n one d i r e c t i o n o n l y . The l i n k w i t h Z o l a ' s c h a r a c t e r s becomes c l e a r . They too are 62 f o r c e d i n one d i r e c t i o n and must move along t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e grooves a t an ever i n c r e a s i n g pace with no hope of escape. The only way out i s , l i k e the f a t e of the troop t r a i n , o b l i t e r a t i o n . So f a r t h i s examination of space has h i g h l i g h t e d the d e c e p t i v e s i m p l i c i t y of the s u b j e c t . A room, a patch of h i l l y c o u n t r y s i d e — what co u l d be simpler? On the s u r f a c e , n o t h i n g . However, a c l o s e r look r e v e a l s deeper i m p l i c a t i o n s , and indeed a s s o c i a t i o n s which entwine to form a p a t t e r n of i n c r e a s i n g complexity. Nowhere i s t h i s t r u e r than i n the case of a s i n g l e d e s e r t e d house. The novel's s t r u c t u r e i s based on the l i n e a r i t y of the r a i l w a y t r a c k . A c t i o n i s d i s t r i b u t e d between two ends of a l i n e — P a r i s and Le Havre — and the l e v e l c r o s s i n g — the Croix-de-Maufras. The c r o s s i n g sees a c o n c e n t r a t i o n of a c t i o n : Grandmorin's murder, Jacques's attempt to s t r a n g l e F l o r e , Phasie*s murder, a t r a i n c r a s h , F l o r e ' s s u i c i d e , SeVerine's murder, Jacques's and Pecqueux's deaths. C l e a r l y , a c t i o n of a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d i s staged a t the Croix-de-Maufras, a f a c t which i s s u f f i c i e n t to mark i t as the " l i e u f a t a l . " However, the i n f l u e n c e of the house at the c r o s s i n g i s f e l t throughout the novel f o r not o n l y does v i o l e n c e r e c u r there with u n f a i l i n g r e g u l a r i t y , r e f e r e n c e s to the house i t s e l f a l s o r e c u r . At the beginning of chapter two, f o r i n s t a n c e , as Jacques approaches the Misards' cottage and a g a i n s h o r t l y before h i s a s s a u l t on F l o r e . In chapter s i x when Jacques r e t u r n s from a day i n P a r i s , a day which has 63 seen the blossoming of h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h SeVerine and a t the end of chapter seven a f t e r F l o r e has found out about the r e l a t i o n s h i p , now f u l l blown. And i n chapter eleven when Jacques r e t u r n s to the house under cover of darkness i n t e n d i n g to murder Roubaud. T h i s i s j u s t a s e l e c t i o n of the r e f e r e n c e s and a more d e t a i l e d look a t them (again, i n order of t h e i r occurrence i n the novel) may prove i n t e r e s t i n g . A l a Croix-de-Maufras, dans un j a r d i n que l e chemin de f e r a coupe*, l a maison e s t pose'e de b i a i s . . . tou j o u r s c l o s e , laisse*e comme en de'tresse . . . C'est l e d e s e r t . . . (p. 81) . . . l a maison s o l i t a i r e , p l a n t e d de b i a i s . . . (p. 92) . . . l a maison plant£e de b i a i s , dans son abandon et sa d e t r e s s e , l e s v o l e t s ^ t e r n e l l e m e n t c l o s , d'une m ^ l a n c o l i e a f f r e u s e . (p. 185) E t , l k , dans c e t t e l u e u r louche, l a maison de l a Croix-de-Maufras se d r e s s a i t de b i a i s , p l u s d£labr6e et toute n o i r e . . (p. 239) Jacques se r e t r o u v a devant l a maison s o l i t a i r e , p l a n t ^ e de b i a i s au bord de l a v o i e , dans l a deVresse de son abandon. (p. 342) The r e f e r e n c e s are not the o n l y r e c u r r e n t f e a t u r e . The terms used to d e s c r i b e the house are a l s o r e p e t i t i v e and what emerges i s , i n f a c t , a l e x i c a l f i e l d . (For the sake of conformity nouns have been s u b s t i t u t e d f o r a d j e c t i v e s 64 throughout). Thus: coupure b i a i s c l 6 t u r e abandon d e s e r t s o l i t u d e d ^ t r e s s e m d l a n c o l i e malheur These nouns are a l l n e g a t i v e , furthermore they have s t r o n g c onnotations of moral stigma. They are most f r e q u e n t l y a p p l i e d to the s i n n e r : he who has cut h i m s e l f o f f from God, he who has c l o s e d h i s mind to t r u t h . For Jacques the house holds a p a r t i c u l a r f a s c i n a t i o n and once more a s e r i e s o f r e f e r e n c e s conveys the impact that i t has on the engine d r i v e r : E l l e l e h a n t a i t sans q u ' i l s£it pourquoi, avec l a s e n s a t i o n confuse q u ' e l l e i m p o r t a i t a son e x i s t e n c e . (p. 93) Et, sans s a v o i r pourquoi, c e t t e f o i s encore, p l u s que l e s pr^c^dentes, Jacques eut l e coeur serr£, comme s ' i l p a s s a i t devant son malheur. (p. 185) Et i l eut encore au coeur l e choc douloureux, ce coup d ' a f f r e u s e t r i s t e s s e , q ui d t a i t comme l e pressentiment du malheur dont 1 ' i n e v i t a b l e ech^ance l ' a t t e n d a i t l a . (p. 342) 65 The sense o f doom he f e e l s i s connected u n e q u i v o c a l l y w i t h the Croix-de-Maufras and h i s unease i n c r e a s e s . Yet, i n d i r e c t p r o p o r t i o n to h i s d i s c o m f o r t , the malignant a t t r a c t i o n of the house grows as i f the urge to know the s e c r e t i t conceals must o v e r r i d e a l l e l s e . Here l i e s the essence o f the house a t the c r o s s i n g and the source o f i t s a t t r a c t i o n . The Croix-de-Maufras r e p r e s e n t s f o r b i d d e n f r u i t . I t i s the c o r o l l a r y o f awareness without knowledge; a s h e l l beyond which the eye cannot p e n e t r a t e : ". . . l e monde e n t i e r f i l a n t a grande v i t e s s e l a s a i t a c e t t e p l a c e , sans r i e n c o n n a i t r e d ' e l l e , t o u j o u r s c l o s e . . ." (p 81). Forbidden f r u i t , knowledge... one i s reminded of the network of a s s o c i a t i o n s woven by Z o l a around the f i g u r e o f the compulsive k i l l e r , a f i g u r e i n which sex and death meet and merge. The co i n c i d e n c e cannot be d i s m i s s e d . The sequence of murders i s set i n motion by Roubaud's d i s c o v e r y o f h i s w i f e ' s i n f i d e l i t y . The o b j e c t upon which s u s p i c i o n f o cuses i s a r i n g , a serpent r i n g with eyes o f ruby and a g i f t from Grandmorin when SeVerine was s t a y i n g a t the Croix-de-Maufras. The r e f e r e n c e to the F a l l i s unmistakable. S-E-X r e a r s i t s head once more. The Croix-de-Maufras i s not only the scene of murder. SeVerine was seduced there, L o u i s e t t e was raped and Jacques's a s s a u l t on F l o r e was i n i t i a l l y s e x u a l . Sex and death — the i n d e l i b l e nature o f t h e i r a s s o c i a t i o n throughout the novel has a l r e a d y been demonstrated (chapter two of t h i s s t u d y ) . The e v o c a t i o n o f the Croix-de-Maufras i n s y s t e m a t i c a l l y 66 negative terms produces a l e v e l of symbolic meaning t h a t i s more coherent than the jumbled threads by means of which Z o l a supposedly t r a c e s the r o o t of Jacques's compulsion to k i l l . Indeed i t s import i s i n e s c a p a b l e . The o p p o s i t e of p a r a d i s e (and, by i n f e r e n c e , s p i r i t u a l s a l v a t i o n ) the house at the c r o s s i n g r e p r e s e n t s s i n — the descent i n t o c o r p o r a l i t y (sex) — and consequently death. I t l a s t appears having f u l f i l l e d i t s t e r r i b l e purpose, "ouverte et desolee . . . dans son abandon de mort" (p. 350). The Croix-de-Maufras demonstrates an o r g a n i c l i n k between a c t i o n and l o c a t i o n . As a p o i n t of i n t e r s e c t i o n i t r e p r e s e n t s the j u n c t u r e where the monovalency a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the r a i l w a y t r a c k g i v e s way to p o l y v a l e n c y . Throughout the novel a thread of n e c e s s i t y i s spun around the two elements "amour," "mort." T h e i r c o n j u n c t i o n i s expressed i n the c r o s s i n g and they are i n e v i t a b l y drawn together i n the Croix-de-Maufras, vortex of debauchery and death. Consequently the house at the c r o s s i n g r e p r e s e n t s the c o n c r e t i z a t i o n of a thematic and formal a s s o c i a t i o n ("amour-mort"). Yet the d e s e r t e d house i s more than a symbol of t h i s b i n a r y formula, i t i s a nucleus from which i s generated a s e r i e s of symbolic a s s o c i a t i o n s designed to impel the n a r r a t i v e towards i t s f a t e f u l c o n c l u s i o n — the shedding of blood i n the "chambre rouge." * * * 67 In h i s approach to s p a c e / l o c a t i o n Renoir appears to d i f f e r most r a d i c a l l y from Z o l a . H i s s t a g i n g of the murderous encounter between Jacques and F l o r e (chapter two of the novel) i s c e r t a i n l y i n an a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t s p i r i t from that of the n o v e l . Jacques approaches F l o r e as she emerges from the p o o l ; he s e i z e s her and t h e i r s t r u g g l e takes them to the bank beside the r a i l w a y t r a c k . As F l o r e ' s r e s i s t a n c e crumbles, Jacques i s overcome by the impulse to k i l l ; h i s hands c l o s e about F l o r e ' s t h r o a t but he i s d i s t u r b e d by a p a s s i n g t r a i n and breaks away, moving o f f i n t o the meadow. T h e i r subsequent c o n v e r s a t i o n takes p l a c e a g a i n s t a v a s t backdrop o f s u n l i t sky: Jacques a r r i v e sur une p e t i t e butte q u i domine l a p l a i n e immense. Au l o i n , on v o i t des pommiers, des pr6s avec des vaches. Peu t - e t r e un v i l l a g e ou une femme. ( S c r i p t , pp. 15-16) Apple t r e e s , cows, p o s s i b l y a v i l l a g e or a country l a s s i n the background — a p a s t o r a l s e t t i n g and no mistake. But why? The d i r e c t o r o f f e r s h i s own comments on the s u b j e c t : Ce q u i m'a aide' a f a i r e La B%te humaine, ce sont l e s e x p l i c a t i o n s que donne l e heros sur son atavisme; je me s u i s d i t : ce n'est pas t e l l e m e n t beau, mais s i un homme a u s s i beau que Gabin d i t c e l a en exte'rieur, avec beaucoup d'ho r i z o n d e r r i e r e , et p e u t - ^ t r e avec du vent, c e l a p o u r r a i t 68 prendre une c e r t a i n e v a l e u r . C'est l a cle" q u i m'a aide" a f a i r e ce film.20 Indeed. Is the d i r e c t o r r e a l l y s a y i n g t h a t he s e t out to p r e t t i f y an e x p l a n a t i o n of Jacques's atavism by an a r t i f i c e o f s t a g i n g ? And what, one might ask, i s the " c e r t a i n v a l u e " he hoped to achieve? However one approaches these q u e s t i o n s the f a c t i s i n e s c a p a b l e — Renoir took the o p p o s i t e course to Z o l a on each p o i n t . F i r s t l y , Renoir c o n t r a d i c t s the n o c t u r n a l a s s o c i a t i o n s of the book by p r e s e n t i n g an attempted murder i n the sun; secondly, he p l a c e s the c h a r a c t e r s i n a completely open environment; and t h i r d l y , by having Jacques e x p l a i n h i s c o n d i t i o n to F l o r e , he turns the r a g i n g f r u s t r a t i o n of the o r i g i n a l i n t o a r e s i g n e d acceptance. But because Renoir does d e v i a t e so c o n s i s t e n t l y from Z o l a , one can begin to understand and accept the l o g i c of h i s c h o i c e . In the novel Jacques's r e a c t i o n to F l o r e i s the f i r s t a c t i v e m a n i f e s t a t i o n of h i s mania and afterwards a f u l l account of h i s c o n d i t i o n i s g i v e n . I t i s t h e r e f o r e of paramount importance t h a t the scene be completely a c c e s s i b l e to the audience. On f i l m a f r e n z i e d a t t a c k i n the dark f o l l o w e d by a mad dash through some h i l l y c o u n t r y s i d e would not have been p a r t i c u l a r l y comprehensible to the audience. Instead Renoir opts f o r a technique which he f e e l s more a p p r o p r i a t e to h i s 20 Jean Renoir from an i n t e r v i e w w i t h Andr£ B a z i n (1951) quoted i n Leprohon, p. 79. 69 medium. He e x p l o i t s the o p p o r t u n i t y f o r explanatory d i a l o g u e but more than t h i s , he c r e a t e s a c o n t r a s t between what we see and what we hear to immediate e f f e c t . Jacques i s f i l m e d a g a i n s t the s k y l i n e . F l o r e s i t s down beside him. A breeze c a r e s s e s the g r a s s , h i g h overhead a few f l u f f y clouds f l o a t l a z i l y by. The scene seems s e t f o r tenderness y e t o n l y a moment before death c a s t i t s shadow. Somberly Jacques t e l l s F l o r e t h a t he can never share h i s l i f e w i t h her, that he i s doomed to l e a d a l o v e l e s s e x i s t e n c e . The import of h i s words stands i n s t a r k c o n t r a s t to the i d y l l i c s e t t i n g and i t s d e l i b e r a t e a s s o c i a t i o n s w i t h young l o v e r s . Thus, by means of t h i s p l e a s a n t s e t t i n g , the film-maker s k i l l f u l l y conveys the i r o n y of Jacques's s i t u a t i o n and the i s o l a t i o n the engine d r i v e r must s u f f e r (suggested by a d i s t a n c e shot of Jacques, a s m a l l f i g u r e a g a i n s t the expanse of the h o r i z o n ) . Another example of Renoir's use of c o n t r a s t occurs a t a l a t e r p o i n t i n the f i l m . Jacques and SeVerine meet s e c r e t l y i n the depot. Jacques p o i n t s out h i s engine and h e l p s Severine aboard. Concealed w i t h i n the c o n f i n e s of the cab, surrounded by p o o l s of shadow and darker patches denoting heaps o f c o a l , the engine d r i v e r d e s c r i b e s the landscape through which he passes each day: 70 . . . sur l a l i g n e on v o i t t o u t on co n n a i t tout . . . on s u i t t r e s b i e n l e s s a i s o n s , avec l e s f e u i l l e s q u i poussent aux a r b r e s et q u i g r a n d i s s e n t , et p u i s q u i tombent. Et p u i s dans l e s champs l e s p e t i t s l a p i n s , vous savez, on v o i t l e u r s p e t i t e s o r e i l l e s . . . I l s nous regardent passer, i l s n'ont pas peur i l s savent t r e s b i e n que nous l e u r f e r o n s pas de mal. ( d i r e c t t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) These words evoke a s u n l i t e x t e r i o r , the t r a n q u i l p r o g r e s s i o n of the seasons and an almost g o d l i k e freedom to see and know. They are f u l l of the promise of new beginnings and, by i m p l i c a t i o n , hope f o r Jacques and Severine a t the outset o f t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Yet t h i s s p i r i t o f tender enthusiasm i s b e l i e d by the couple's p h y s i c a l surroundings. They are together i l l i c i t l y , under the cl o a k o f darkness. SeVerine i s a p a r t y to murder and Jacques i s prey to murderous i n c l i n a t i o n s . The darkest m o t i v a t i o n s — g u i l t and d e c e i t — are the true b a s i s o f t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . E n c l o s u r e i s very much a f e a t u r e of the f i l m . A c t i o n i s set i n s h u t t e r e d rooms to which access can onl y be gained by a shadowy stair w a y , i n t r a i n compartments and cabs. The c h a r a c t e r s , p o r t r a y e d i n t h e i r working environment, are f r e q u e n t l y seen e i t h e r i n s i d e or a l o n g s i d e engines and an i m p l i c i t comparison of s t a t u r e i s thereby a c h i e v e d . The c h a r a c t e r s are d e l i b e r a t e l y dwarfed by machinery. When the engine steams i n t o gare S t . Lazare s h o r t l y a f t e r the f i l m has begun, the e f f e c t i s ponderous, even m a j e s t i c . The sound-track slows i n accompaniment to the d e c e l e r a t i o n of the engine. A l a t e r a l shot of the machine drawing l e v e l w i t h the p l a t f o r m f i l l s the screen with i t s dark bulk. When the men descend from the cab the metal f l a n k s of the engine tower above them. In La Bete humaine environment i s r e s t r i c t i v e . F u r t h e r , i t i s used to express the e s s e n t i a l m a t e r i a l i s m of the c h a r a c t e r s ' c o n d i t i o n . Considered thus, Z o l a ' s c h a r a c t e r s have an almost symbiotic r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e i r surroundings. Renoir uses o b j e c t s and p e r c e p t i o n of space to d i f f e r e n t e f f e c t . He shows man dominated by h i s surroundings. The sense of menace which p r o v i d e s the atmosphere of the novel i s m i s s i n g . The prevalence of matter t h a t i s i t s source i s gone. Renoir's c h a r a c t e r s are h e l p l e s s , a l i e n a t e d i n a profound awareness of f u t i l i t y and i s o l a t i o n . T h e i r world i s not malignant i t i s simply (and hugely) impervious. The r e s u l t i n g atmosphere i s more c h i l l i n g than the sense of t h r e a t , p o s i t i v e a t l e a s t , t h a t emanates from the n o v e l . S t r u c t u r a l l y LA BETE HUMAINE i s a much a b b r e v i a t e d v e r s i o n . A c t i o n i s staged a t Le Havre or P a r i s , and mostly the former. A l e v e l c r o s s i n g i s f e a t u r e d on one b r i e f o c c a s i o n when Jacques v i s i t s h i s godmother near Breaute\ The enquiry i n t o Grandmorin's murder i s s e t i n an anonymous i n t e r i o r . The murders are staged on a t r a i n and i n the Roubauds' apartment r e s p e c t i v e l y . Nowhere does the house a t the c r o s s i n g appear. Of course, the t r u n c a t i o n which the 72 p l o t has undergone removes the s t r u c t u r a l j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r i t s e x i s t e n c e . In f a c t i t i s q u i t e probable t h a t the d i r e c t o r a l t e r e d the s t r u c t u r e i n order to f a c i l i t a t e the e x c l u s i o n of the Croix-de-Maufras. Having examined the f u n c t i o n and s i g n i f i c a n c e of the house a t the c r o s s i n g , i t i s h a r d l y s u r p r i s i n g t h a t Renoir chose to ignore i t . The r o l e of the Croix-de-Maufras extends f a r beyond the p u r e l y mimetic, s t a n d i n g as i t does a t the core of the n ovel's symbolism. On f i l m i t would have become simply a s t r u c t u r e — f o u r w a l l s , a r o o f , windows, a door — a d e s o l a t e r u i n where murder ( by extreme c o n t r i v a n c e ) was prone to occur. L i g h t i n g , music, and sound e f f e c t s as accompaniments to the s t a g i n g of a s p e c i f i c k i n d of a c t i o n i n i t s v i c i n i t y would, i n the best t r a d i t i o n of the Hollywood haunted house, have appended a c e r t a i n s i n i s t e r atmosphere to i t . Renoir was wise enough to a v o i d t h i s t r a p . There i s no p l a c e f o r the Croix-de-Maufras i n h i s f i l m and any attempt to i n c l u d e i t would have proved doubly d i s a p p o i n t i n g , a t the same time d i l u t i n g the powerful image c r e a t e d by Z o l a and f a l s i f y i n g the d i r e c t o r ' s conception of the work. With i n c r e a s i n g i n s i s t e n c e a s i n g l e p o i n t r e c u r s : Renoir's approach to La B§te humaine was d i c t a t e d p r e c i s e l y by what he was not a b l e to convey. P a t h e t i c f a l l a c y , f o r example, i s a p e r f e c t l y v i a b l e c i n e m a t i c technique. The d i r e c t o r uses i t i n the opening frames of the f i l m . Somber music accompanies an image of s w i r l i n g smoke or f o g . The c r e d i t s r o l l . The a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h Jacques's c o n d i t i o n i s 73 made l a t e r when he d e s c r i b e s what he experiences as "une espece de grande fum£e qui deforme t o u t " ( S c r i p t , p. 16). Z o l a , however, went beyond p a t h e t i c f a l l a c y and Renoir, f a c e d w i t h the complex symbiosis that r e s u l t e d , uses images which have c l a r i t y and impact and are t o t a l l y a t odds wi t h the t e x t . In t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e approaches t o the s u b j e c t of space, both author and d i r e c t o r r e v e a l t h e i r conceptions o f the work. When Renoir d e s c r i b e s the e x p l a n a t i o n Jacques's g i v e s of h i s atavism as " l a cl6 q u i m'a a i d e a f a i r e ce f i l m , " he i s doing two t h i n g s : p i n p o i n t i n g an ar e a where the f i l m must d i f f e r from the novel and b e t r a y i n g h i s d e l i g h t i n the p o t e n t i a l f o r the c r e a t i o n o f some b e a u t i f u l images which t h i s a l l o w s . J u s t as i d e n t i t y i s c e n t r a l to the no v e l , so the technique o f c o n t r a s t i s c e n t r a l to the f i l m . Indeed, the changes made by Renoir and which have been noted, begin to assume a new coherence and s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the l i g h t o f t h i s awareness. 74 Chapter Four Theme and Form The novel p r e s e n t s p a r t i c u l a r problems f o r a n a l y s i s . L i k e the W i l l - o ' - t h e - w i s p i t appears w i t h i n reach only to elude the grasp once more. A s t r a n g e l y ephemeral comparison f o r a work which i s based so completely i n c o r p o r a l i t y on both formal and thematic l e v e l s . However, w h i l e u n r a v e l i n g one thread, one comes upon another, then another... and soon the t i d y process of u n p i c k i n g the t e x t u a l t a p e s t r y has become a jumble of f a l s e s t a r t s and l o s t ends, i n which one merely m u l t i p l i e s words. The reason i s the e s s e n t i a l d e n s i t y of the n o v e l , a d e n s i t y which a r i s e s from the i n t e r p e n e t r a t i o n of theme and form. The r a i l w a y i s the p o i n t of a t t r a c t i o n i n which theme and form u n i t e . The novel's c e n t r a l theme f o r example, the c o n t r a s t of progress and atavism, i s expressed by the dynamism of the locomotive and the s t a s i s of the c h a r a c t e r s who l i v e beside the t r a c k . Phasie, c o n f i n e d w i t h i n the c r o s s i n g keeper's c o t t a g e , a p r i s o n e r of her f a i l i n g body and, e q u a l l y , the o b s t i n a c y which keeps her a t the mercy of her husband, watches and wonders: 75 B i e n sur que l a t e r r e e n t i e r e p a s s a i t l k , pas des F r a n c a i s seulement, des Strangers a u s s i , des gens venues des con t r ^ e s l e s p l u s l o i n t a i n e s , puisque personne maintenant ne pouv a i t r e s t e r chez s o i , et que tous l e s peuples, comme on d i s a i t , n'en f e r a i e n t b i e n t o t p l u s qu'un s e u l . Ca, c'e^tait l e progres, tous f r e r e s , r o u l a n t tous ensemble, l k - b a s , v e r s un pays de Cocagne. (p. 87) The paradox i s c l e a r . I s o l a t i o n i s thrown i n t o r e l i e f by the p r o g r e s s i o n o f a v e r i t a b l e m u l t i t u d e o f t r a v e l e r s , a l l o f whom pass by completely unaware of the p e r i l i n which Phasie e x i s t s : C e l a l u i semblait d r o l e , de v i v r e perdue au fond de ce d e s e r t , sans une ame a qui se c o n f i e r , l o r s q u e , de j o u r et de n u i t , c o n t i n u e l l e m e n t , i l d e f i l a i t t a n t d'hommes et de femmes, dans l e coup de temp£te des t r a i n s . . . (p. 87) In e f f e c t the concept o f progress i s encapsulated i n the l i n e a r p r o g r e s s i o n o f the r a i l w a y , a f e a t u r e which i s a s s o c i a t e d d i r e c t l y w i t h the s t r u c t u r e of the n o v e l : C ' ^ t a i t comme un grand corps, un §tre ge'ant couche" en t r a v e r s de l a t e r r e , l a fete k P a r i s , l e s v e r t e b r e s tout l e long de l a l i g n e , l e s membres s ' e l a r g i s s a n t avec l e s embranchements, l e s p i e d s et l e s mains au Havre et dans l e s a u t r e s v i l l e s d'arriv6e. Et ca p a s s a i t , ca. p a s s a i t , m^canique, triomp h a l , a l l a n t "a I' a v e n i r avec une r e c t i t u d e math^matique, dans 1 1 ignorance v o l o n t a i r e de ce q u ' i l r e s t a i t de l'homme, aux deux bords, cache* et tou j o u r s v i v a c e , l ' 6 t e r n e l l e p a s s i o n et l ' d t e r n e l crime. (pp. 90-91) 76 T h i s q u o t a t i o n concludes with the b i n a r y formula resumed l a t e r i n the novel as "amour-mort, 1 1 and a n t i c i p a t e s the i n t e g r a t i o n of these two elements a t the p o i n t o f i n t e r s e c t i o n — the Croix-de-Maufras. The p o i n t a t which the forward momentum of the t r a i n i s h a l t e d on two occasions w i t h deadly consequences (chapter seven and chapter t e n ) . The m u l t i p l e uses to which Z o l a puts the r a i l w a y (and the locomotive) a r i s e i n v a r i a b l y from the t e n s i o n between r e g r e s s i o n and p r o g r e s s i o n . The r a i l w a y may a t f i r s t have been co n s i d e r e d s o l e l y as the m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f progress y e t the d i s t i n c t i o n b l u r s and the heart of the paradox i s r e v e a l e d . For a l l i t s a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h t e c h n o l o g i c a l advance and the subsequent promise o f new h o r i z o n s made a c c e s s i b l e to a l l , the author approaches the r a i l w a y i n a s p i r i t which i f not e x a c t l y c o n t r a r y , i s a t the very l e a s t ambiguous. Consequently, the r a i l w a y i s at the o r i g i n of the profound sense o f c l o s u r e which marks the n o v e l . Because a c t i o n may only be staged a t f i x e d p o i n t s (Le Havre, P a r i s , the Croix-de-Maufras) a p a t t e r n o f r e f l e x a s s o c i a t i o n s i s e s t a b l i s h e d . In chapter one a t r i p to P a r i s and a soj o u r n i n Mere V i c t o i r e ' s rooms are used to present a r e v e l a t i o n , as a r e s u l t o f which murder i s planned. In the second h a l f o f the novel (chapter e i g h t ) a s t a y i n V i c t o i r e ' s rooms again prompts a dramatic d i s c l o s u r e , b r i n g i n g thoughts o f murder i n i t s wake. At the same time the locomotive r e p r e s e n t s forward momentum. Each chapter i s marked by the rush and r a t t l e o f 77 an engine and the e a r l y chapters (one - three) i n p a r t i c u l a r are i d e n t i f i e d by t h e i r p o r t r a y a l of the t r a i n i n motion. Chapter one concludes: ". . . et r i e n ne d e v a i t p l u s arre"ter ce t r a i n lance a toute vapeur. I I d i s p a r u t " (p. 80). The s e n s a t i o n of r a p i d a c c e l e r a t i o n i s s u s t a i n e d i n chapter two as the t r a i n e x i t s from the t u n n e l : "Deja, l e t r a i n f u y a i t , se p e r d a i t v e r s l a Croix-de-Maufras . . . " (p. 102). And the impetus continues i n chapter t h r e e : ". . . l e t r a i n de neuf heures cinquante s ' e b r a n l a , r o u l a p l u s v i t e , d i s p a r u t au l o i n , dans l a p o u s s i e r e d'or du s o l e i l " (p. 130). In each case i t gathers speed and disappears i n t o the d i s t a n c e . Z o l a i s c l e a r l y i n i t i a t i n g a d e v ice which w i l l imbue the a c t i o n w i t h an atmosphere of i n e s c a p a b l e doom. From the departure of the 6:30 Le Havre t r a i n (chapter one) to the u n c o n t r o l l e d dash of the troop t r a i n i n chapter twelve, the s e n s a t i o n i s t h a t of an i n e x o r a b l e surge; forwards... to d e s t r u c t i o n . But not o n l y does the locomotive's dynamism inform a c t i o n w i t h a sense of f a t a l i t y , the t r a i n , as p a r t of a system and t h e r e f o r e having r e g u l a r i z e d movements, a l s o p r o v i d e s the means to i n t e n s i f y the p o r t r a y a l of cause and e f f e c t . The l i v e s of the r a i l w a y workers are r u l e d by the t i m e t a b l e . Even t h e i r spouses measure the p a s s i n g moments by s u c c e s s i v e departures and a r r i v a l s : E l l e ZfSeverineJ se l e v a i t assez t a r d , heureuse de r e s t e r s e u l e au l i t , bercee par l e s departs et l e s a r r i v d e s de t r a i n s , qui marquaient pour e l l e l a marche des heures, exactement, a i n s i qu'une h o r l o g e . (p. 188) 78 Because s t a t i o n e x i s t e n c e forms the i n f r a s t r u c t u r e of the drama, Z o l a i s a b l e to draw a t t e n t i o n to temporal p r o g r e s s i o n at the micro l e v e l i n a context where awareness of p a s s i n g moments i s d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to the movement of t r a i n s . Thus a f t e r Jacques has k i l l e d SeVerine the author notes: "pas une heure, depuis un an, sans q u ' i l eut marche' ver s 1'inevitable" (p. 349), thereby l i n k i n g the e v o l u t i o n of the engine d r i v e r ' s s t a t e w i t h the i n f l e x i b l e r o t a t i o n of the t i m e t a b l e to which he must adhere. Chapter e l e v e n p r e s e n t s the c u l m i n a t i o n of the mainstream of the a c t i o n i n the novel (namely, the murder of SeVerine conceived as the i n e v i t a b l e consequence of Grandmorin's k i l l i n g ) . The v a r i o u s f u n c t i o n s of t r a i n and r a i l w a y examined thus f a r have i n f a c t combined to t h i s end. However, the locomotive continues to be i m p l i c a t e d (and the word i s not e x c e s s i v e ) i n the a c t i o n . I t f i g u r e s l a r g e l y i n t h i s penultimate chapter, punctuating the a c t i o n with the frequency and f e r o c i t y of i t s p a s s i n g . On a more obvious l e v e l Z o l a i s u s i n g the locomotive as a t e n s i o n b u i l d i n g d e v i c e , by means of which the minutes seem to drag i n t e r m i n a b l y : De nouveau, un t r a i n passa, un descendant c e l u i - c i , 1'omnibus qu i c r o i s a i t l e d i r e c t devant l a Croix-de-Maufras, a c i n q minutes de d i s t a n c e . Jacques s ' 6 t a i t arr£te\ s u r p r i s . Cinq minutes seulement! comme ce s e r a i t long, d'attendre une demi-heure! (p. 345) 79 Yet the t r a i n has a d i r e c t l i n k with the scene u n f o l d i n g w i t h i n the w a l l s of the i s o l a t e d house. The tumultuous passage o f s u c c e s s i v e locomotives scans the drama of Jacques's s t r u g g l e to r e p r e s s the beast u n t i l : . . . i l a b b a t i t l e poing, et l e couteau l u i c l o u a l a q u e s t i o n dans l a gorge . . . . A c e t t e seconde, p a s s a i t 1'express de P a r i s , s i v i o l e n t , s i r a p i d e , que l e planc h e r en trembla; et e l l e £tait morte, comme foudroye'e dans c e t t e tempete. (p. 348) The t i m i n g o f Jacques's blow to c o i n c i d e with the a r r i v a l o f the P a r i s express i s not mere a r t i f i c e ; i t marks the f r u i t i o n o f the t r a i n ' s symbolic s i g n i f i c a n c e as an a v a t a r o f death and d e s i r e , an a s s o c i a t i o n which began with the f i r s t murder. As Jacques paces the "chambre rouge" d e s p e r a t e l y t r y i n g to c o n t a i n the wave of v i o l e n c e that t h r e a t e n s to engulf him, the r o a r of each p a s s i n g t r a i n denotes the i n c r e a s i n g dominance o f the beast. The p a t t e r n i s d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to th a t developed i n chapter two. Here Jacques's c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h Phasie i s i n t e r r u p t e d a t r e g u l a r i n t e r v a l s by Misard's f u n c t i o n as c r o s s i n g keeper: Une sonnerie brusque l u i fPhasie") f i t j'eter au-dehors l e me'me regard i n q u i e t . . . . On en t e n d i t l e t r a i n , un express, cache par une courbe, s'approcher avec un grondement qui g r a n d i s s a i t . I I passa comme en un coup de foudre, e b r a n l a n t , menagant d'emporter l a maison basse, au m i l i e u d'un vent de tempete. (p. 85) 80 A t t e n t i o n i s drawn si m u l t a n e o u s l y to Misard and the t r a i n . However the r e l e v a n c e of the a s s o c i a t i o n o n l y becomes apparent i n the l i g h t of Phasie's a s s e r t i o n that her husband i s p o i s o n i n g her. Taken i n c o n j u n c t i o n with the murder p l a n of the p r e c e d i n g chapter and the f a t a l i s t i c terms i n which the d e p a r t i n g t r a i n i s d e s c r i b e d — "On ne v o y a i t de l u i , saignant comme des b l e s s u r e s ouvertes, que l e s t r o i s feux de l ' a r r i e r e , l e t r i a n g l e rouge." — the reader suspects that Z o l a i s surrounding the locomotive w i t h an aura of death. The events l e a d i n g to the c o n c l u s i o n of chapter two (Jacques's attempt on F l o r e ' s l i f e and h i s w i t n e s s i n g of the murder on the p a s s i n g t r a i n ) c o nfirm t h i s impression and enhance i t with an awareness of the a s s o c i a t i o n of d e s i r e with death. * * Renoir condenses the repeated r e f e r e n c e s to moving machinery found i n La Bete humaine i n t o an opening sequence of v i s u a l and a c o u s t i c mastery. The audience i s swept i n t o the f i l m by the impetus of the engine, an e f f e c t which i s due to a d e l i b e r a t e i n t e r p l a y of movement: t h a t of man, machine and camera. The a c t i o n s of the o p e r a t i v e s are emphasized by a s h i f t from l e f t to r i g h t f o l l o w i n g the motions of e i t h e r Jacques or Pecqueux, the camera then draws back along the l e n g t h of the cab i n a movement c o n t r a s t i n g with the forward surge of the engine, which i s suddenly t h r u s t upon us by an 81 e x t e r n a l shot. At t h i s stage the t r a i n i s f i l m e d a t a l a t e r a l angle while the p a s s i n g c o u n t r y s i d e f i l l s a q u a r t e r of the l e f t - h a n d s i d e o f the screen. The r e s u l t a n t s e n s a t i o n i s one of r a p i d p r o g r e s s . A l i t t l e l a t e r the camera i s focused ahead of the t r a i n . Now the t r a c k s curve away from the v o r a c i o u s wheels of the locomotive and we plunge headlong i n t o the d i s t a n c e . But speed, although a major f a c t o r , i s not the s o l e b a s i s f o r the e f f e c t of these images. Renoir, through h i s use of sound and camera angle, p r e s e n t s the t r a i n as the dominant f o r c e . For the f i r s t few moments, before the e x t e r n a l sound-track breaks i n , the engine n o i s e alone s i l e n c e s the men, f o r c i n g them to communicate by gest u r e . L a t e r a l shots o f the engine i n t e r p o s e the bulk of the machine between us and the scree n space while s h i f t s between i n t e r n a l and e x t e r n a l shots evoke the dimensions o f the machine i n p r o p o r t i o n to i t s human o p e r a t i v e s , c r e a t i n g an overwhelming sense o f i t s mass and power. Thus the impact o f the opening sequence can be r e s o l v e d i n t o two d i s t i n c t y e t r e l a t e d impressions: the imperiousness o f the machine emphasized by the subservience of the men whose a c t i o n s are performed s o l e l y to ma i n t a i n the f u n c t i o n i n g o f the engine — and speed — the achievement of a s e n s a t i o n of i n e x o r a b l e forward momentum. The sequence i s d e f i n e d by motion i n more than one r e s p e c t . I t begins a t f u l l t h r o t t l e , j o i n i n g Jacques and Pecqueux en ro u t e , and ends with t h e i r a r r i v a l a t gare S t . Lazare when the engine a t l a s t steams to a h a l t . Viewed 82 independently, i t b e t r a y s a very d e l i b e r a t e s t r u c t u r e based on a c e n t r a l d i v i s i o n c o n s t i t u t e d by a t u n n e l . P r i o r to e n t r y i n t o the t u n n e l , the camera i s p o s i t i o n e d i n s i d e the cab and medium shots of Jacques and Pecqueux a l t e r n a t e s u c c e s s i v e l y from l e f t to r i g h t and back ag a i n . T h i s s e r i e s of shots i s i n t e r r u p t e d by a b r i e f p e r i o d of t o t a l blackness when the t r a i n i s i n the t u n n e l . I t emerges and the camera i s now r e p o s i t i o n e d ahead of the engine to g i v e a forward view of the t r a c k s , a shot which a l t e r n a t e s a number of times w i t h a r e a r view of the o p e r a t i v e s . C l e a r l y , a p a t t e r n i s being e s t a b l i s h e d based on the p o s s i b i l i t i e s f o r symmetry prov i d e d by the t u n n e l . L e f t - r i g h t , r i g h t - l e f t ; f r o n t , back, back - f r o n t ; the shots form a s e r i e s of matching re v e r s e d pairs.21 The opening sequence becomes even more i n t e r e s t i n g when cons i d e r e d i n r e l a t i o n to the r e s t of the f i l m . I t i s repeated i n r e v e r s e order a t the end and r e c u r s i n p a r t midway through. Around t h i s c e n t r a l d i v i s i o n the d i r e c t o r arranges the a c t i o n . In the f i r s t h a l f a compulsive murder attempt i s f o l l o w e d by a c a l c u l a t e d murder, i n the second a planned attempt precedes a compulsive murder. The i n i t i a l sequence can now be seen to serve three d i s t i n c t purposes: i t p r o v i d e s the dynamism a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the novel's f a t a l c o n c l u s i o n ; i t a l s o p r o v i d e s a means of d i v i d i n g and ? 1 For a more d e t a i l e d breakdown of t h i s sequence of shots see Sesonske, p. 374. 83 e n c l o s i n g the a c t i o n ; f u r t h e r i t i s a microcosm of the main body of the f i l m , e f f e c t i v e l y p r e f i g u r i n g i t s symmetrical s t r u c t u r e . The f i l m ' s c e n t r a l d i v i s i o n i s marked by the r e c u r r e n c e of a unique shot — the one o c c a s i o n when the locomotive was framed i n the l e f t - h a n d q u a r t e r of the scree n and showing Jacques c r a n i n g out of the cab. The focus s h i f t s to the t r a c k s then back to a r e a r view of the men. D r i v e r and st o k e r communicate by s i g n language, working as a team. Jacques's a t t e n t i o n i n p a r t i c u l a r i s wholly on the task i n hand. The second time t h a t we see the shot i s d i r e c t l y a f t e r Jacques has d e c l a r e d h i s love f o r SeVerine. On t h i s o c c a s i o n Pecqueux t r i e s r e p e a t e d l y to c a t c h Jacques's a t t e n t i o n but without success. Comparison w i t h the i n i t i a l sequence i s c l e a r l y i n v i t e d . Jacques's o r i g i n a l a i r o f c o o l competence has g i v e n way to a s t a t e of d i s t r a c t i o n , i n d i c a t e d by the breakdown i n the men's working r a p p o r t . L a t e r another s h o r t sequence f o c u s i n g on the men i n working mode i s i n c l u d e d , t h i s time a f t e r Jacques has f a i l e d to do away with Roubaud and has, as a r e s u l t , j e o p a r d i z e d h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h SeVerine. Now the engine d r i v e r i s s u l l e n and withdrawn and d e l i b e r a t e l y i g n ores Pecqueux who maintains a c h e e r f u l monologue. Thus, wi t h admirable b r e v i t y , the d i r e c t o r conveys the extent of Jacques's d e t e r i o r a t i o n , u s i n g the opening sequence as a y a r d s t i c k by which to measure the e v o l u t i o n o f the c h a r a c t e r s ' s t a t e s w i t h i n the f i l m . One d e t e c t s a s i m i l a r i n t e n t i o n i n Renoir's use of 84 Lebleu, a c h a r a c t e r who i s otherwise redundant i n the r e v i s e d scheme of t h i n g s . L e b l e u i s onl y seen on the stairway o f the employees' q u a r t e r s a t Le Havre as he r e t u r n s from or leaves f o r a s h i f t . He r e p r e s e n t s the r o u t i n e o f s t a t i o n l i f e . At the o u t s e t he r e p l i e s to Roubaud's g r e e t i n g as the deputy s t a t i o n - m a s t e r h u r r i e s e a g e r l y to see h i s w i f e . L a t e r , when Roubaud has degenerated i n t o a compulsive gambler, Lebleu's acknowledgment of h i s c o l l e a g u e takes the form of a rebuke about h i s bad time-keeping which h i g h l i g h t s the extent o f Roubaud's d e c l i n e . I r o n i c a l l y , by the end, the deputy s t a t i o n - m a s t e r keeps such e r r a t i c hours t h a t SeVerine mistakes Lebleu's approach f o r t h a t o f her husband and p r e c i p i t a t e s her f a t e w i t h a k i s s . The r e g u l a r i t y which i s the b a s i s o f s t a t i o n e x i s t e n c e i s e i t h e r i n d i c a t e d d i r e c t l y by the movements of employees — Lebleu being an immediate example — or i n d i r e c t l y by the backdrop of t r a i n s and the l o c a l e s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h them — pl a t f o r m s , t o o l sheds, the workers' canteen. The audience i s made aware of time i n the s p e c i f i c context of a t i m e t a b l e on three separate o c c a s i o n s : i n the opening sequence, the f i r s t h a l f o f the f i l m , and the second h a l f . F i r s t l y , Jacques checks h i s watch on the s t r e t c h before gare S t . Lazare; secondly, Roubaud, w a i t i n g f o r Severine, looks down from V i c t o i r e * s room on the d e p a r t i n g and a r r i v i n g t r a i n s and c o n s u l t s h i s watch; t h i r d l y , t h i s a c t i o n i s repeated by Jacques i n the same l o c a t i o n and s i t u a t i o n . R e p e t i t i o n c l e a r l y l i n k s the l a t t e r two i n s t a n c e s and p a r a l l e l s the 85 episodes i n q u e s t i o n . In each case, a c o n f e s s i o n takes p l a c e , the consequence of which i s murder. However, the f i r s t example occurs i n i s o l a t i o n and may perhaps be d i s m i s s e d as unimportant byplay — t h a t of the c o n s c i e n t i o u s engine d r i v e r w i t h a t i m e t a b l e to f o l l o w . What q u i c k l y becomes apparent i s the sheer r i g o r of the f i l m ' s s t r u c t u r e ; not a shot, not even a movement i s s u p e r f l u o u s . E v e r y t h i n g i s r e l e v a n t and nothing more so than t h a t i n i t i a l g e s t u r e . When Renoir has Jacques check h i s watch, he i s i n t r o d u c i n g the concept of temporal c o n s t r a i n t . Jacques must f o l l o w a t i m e t a b l e j u s t as the t r a i n he d r i v e s must f o l l o w the t r a c k s . Soon a sense of urgency pervades the scene. The a s s o c i a t i o n between d r i v e r and engine i s b u i l t up by the s e r i e s of a l t e r n a t i n g i n t e r i o r and e x t e r i o r shots t h a t comprise a mesmeric p a t t e r n designed to envelop the audience i n i t s compulsive atmosphere. The forward rush o f the locomotive p a r a l l e l s Jacques's c o n d i t i o n ; he cannot deny the d i c t a t e s of h i s nature and has no c h o i c e but to f o l l o w the course i t s e t s him. Consequently, these images i n s t i g a t e the process of cause and e f f e c t which l o c k s events i n t o a sequence of r a p i d and i n e v i t a b l e s u c c e s s i o n . Obviously Renoir i s e s t a b l i s h i n g a d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p between the r a i l w a y and subsequent a c t i o n . A p o i n t which i s confirmed by examination of another, and major, aspect of the opening sequence. Jacques and Pecqueux are shown i n the l i m i t e d space of the cab; t h e i r a c t i o n s are s i m i l a r l y l i m i t e d to the scope of 86 the mechanical manoeuvres r e q u i r e d to operate the machine. Considered thus, each a c t i o n can be seen to have a preformulated r e s u l t . When the d i r e c t o r goes on to encompass t h e i r a c t i o n s i n a r e p e t i t i v e symmetrical s t r u c t u r e he i n f a c t produces the d e t e r m i n i s t i c mechanism th a t w i l l inform the e n t i r e f i l m and p r o p e l i t r e l e n t l e s s l y towards i t s f a t a l c o n c l u s i o n . The mechanism r e c u r s i n the l a t t e r h a l f o f the f i l m , t h i s time i n a s o c i a l context as Jacques and SeVerine dance a t the " b a i des cheminots." The predetermined movements r e q u i r e d to operate the engine are resumed i n the p r e s c r i b e d motions o f the w a l t z . Jacques leads SeVerine round the dance f l o o r and each step b r i n g s him c l o s e r to the f a t a l blow. The c o n n e c t i o n i s emphasized by the way i n which the f i n a l murder i s presented. When the p l a n to k i l l Roubaud has m i s f i r e d and SeVerine l a y s dead Renoir i n t e r s p e r s e s shots o f her body with scenes from the b a l l where a s i n g e r i s g i v i n g a r e n d i t i o n o f a b a l l a d e n t i t l e d "Le P e t i t Coeur de Ninon" — the same tune to which Jacques and SeVerine were dancing j u s t minutes b e f o r e . The s i l e n t darkness o f SeVerine*s bedroom i s count e r p o i n t e d by the b r i g h t and animated ballroom and as the camera focuses on her l i f e l e s s hands the words of the song resume: Le p e t i t coeur de Ninon e s t s i p e t i t et s i f r a g i l e , C'est un l e g e r p a p i l l o n , l e p e t i t coeur de Ninon. 87 And conclude a f t e r a shot of her s t a r i n g eyes: II e s t mignon, mignon. S i l a pauvrette a quoi de coquette et n'est pas f a c i l e , C'est pas sa f a u t e , non, p e t i t coeur, p e t i t coeur de Ninon. ( d i r e c t t r a n s c r i p t i o n from f i l m ) The l y r i c s d e s c r i b e the d e l i c a t e beauty of a f l i r t a t i o u s young woman; what i s d e p i c t e d i s the f r o z e n h o r r o r of v i o l e n t death. The technique of c o n t r a s t has reached i t s c u l m i n a t i o n . Throughout the f i l m l i g h t v i e s w i t h shadow. Roubaud g r e e t s SeVerine as she s i t s i n the sun a t the open window, soon he looks out of another window as darkness gathers, h i s l i f e i n r u i n s . Jacques and SeVerine meet i n a s u n l i t park, d u r i n g t h e i r subsequent meetings they hide i n the dark depot, soon to be the scene of t h e i r r upture when Jacques i s unable to k i l l Roubaud. The t e n s i o n between l i g h t and darkness, s y m b o l i c a l l y , hope and d e s p a i r , s l i p s i n e x o r a b l y towards the l a t t e r , r e v e a l i n g the dichotomy that e x i s t s between man's a s p i r a t i o n s and h i s c a p a b i l i t i e s — the e s s e n t i a l i r o n y of the human c o n d i t i o n . Renoir e x p l o i t s the p o t e n t i a l f o r v i s u a l drama which the locomotive c o n t a i n s but d i s a s s o c i a t e s i t from the p a r t i c u l a r thematic dimension which i t has i n the novel (namely, the a s s o c i a t i o n of death with d e s i r e ) . Yet Renoir's use of the r a i l w a y , which i s t o t a l l y a p p r o p r i a t e to the requirements of 88 h i s own medium, produces a v a r i a n t of the "metaphor of the t r a c k s . " How e l s e should one d e s c r i b e the f u n c t i o n and e f f e c t o f the opening sequence? The rush to d e s t r u c t i o n which p a r a l l e l s the deadly obsessions of the i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r s i s n e c e s s a r i l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the author's p r e o c c u p a t i o n w i t h atavism and i t s c o n t r a s t w i t h progress, both o f which c e n t e r on the locomotive. Renoir's metaphor, however, e x p l o i t s the mechanical aspect of the engine, s e t t i n g up a v i s u a l equation o f cause and e f f e c t t h at w i l l operate s u c c i n c t l y throughout the f i l m . The d i f f e r e n c e between these two metaphors r a i s e s an i n t e r e s t i n g p o i n t about the r e l a t i o n s h i p of theme to form. Renoir omits much of the thematic content o f the n o v e l , by so doing he avoids the paradox i n h e r e n t i n Z o l a ' s ambivalent approach to the r a i l w a y . Instead, he develops a d i f f e r e n t paradox — the d u p l i c i t y o f l i f e i n which l i g h t and lau g h t e r are i n v a r i a b l y overshadowed by darkness and s u f f e r i n g . He does so through the technique of c o n t r a s t , which i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the f a t a l i s t i c atmosphere generated by the opening sequence. The means i s i d e a l l y s u i t e d to the end ( t h a t i s to say, the c o n t r a s t o f l i g h t - h e a r t e d music and gruesome death scene, to c i t e a more r e c e n t example) and a t once conveys a mixture o f pathos and i r o n y . I t i s , i n f a c t , v i s u a l l y eloquent. The process o f e x p r e s s i o n (be i t l i t e r a r y or f i l m i c ) i s s u b j e c t p r i m a r i l y to the c o n s t r a i n t s w i t h i n which i t i s formulated. What may be d i f f i c u l t to convey v i a the w r i t t e n 8 9 medium may lend i t s e l f to p o r t r a y a l on f i l m . The w r i t e r , f o r i n s t a n c e , gropes f o r words to express the f u l l impact of a locomotive i n motion, the film-maker simply r e c o r d s and p l a y s back images of a f a s t moving t r a i n . Yet the film-maker i s hampered i n areas where the w r i t e r moves wit h ease. I t would seem reasonable to suggest, t h e r e f o r e , that some m a t e r i a l i s by nature f i l m i c , w h i le other m a t e r i a l i s by nature l i t e r a r y . When one i s d e a l i n g w i t h an a d a p t a t i o n , however, t h i s approach to content assumes a deeper s i g n i f i c a n c e . I t i m p l i e s t h a t theme i s subordinate to form. Indeed, r e f e r e n c e to the a s s o c i a t i o n of theme and form w i l l r e c u r i n the f o l l o w i n g chapter which takes as i t s s u b j e c t those areas of e x p r e s s i o n that appear e x c l u s i v e to each medium, and to the novel i n p a r t i c u l a r . 90 Chapter F i v e L i m i t s o f S t y l e The pr e c e d i n g chapters have p l o t t e d the course taken by the a d a p t a t i o n . The p a t t e r n which has emerged corresponds w i t h an assessment made by George Bluestone: " L i k e two i n t e r s e c t i n g l i n e s , novel and f i l m meet a t a p o i n t , then d i v e r g e . " 22 some of the reasons behind t h i s d i v e r g e n t tendency have a l r e a d y been d i s c u s s e d ; i n the m a j o r i t y o f cases they have prompted the c o n c l u s i o n t h a t the media themselves precl u d e c l o s e r i d e n t i t y . T h i s chapter, c o n c e n t r a t i n g p a r t i c u l a r l y on the c r e a t i o n o f f i g u r a l meaning, w i l l c o n f i r m t h i s c o n c l u s i o n . C r e a t i o n o f f i g u r a l meaning i n the l i t e r a r y medium can be t r a c e d to the o p e r a t i o n o f three t e x t u a l modes: 1. N a r r a t i v e 2. Metaphoric 3. Epic-Symbolic. The L i s o n ' s journey through the snow (chapter seven) p r o v i d e s a p a r t i c u l a r l y good example of the f u n c t i o n i n g o f these three modes. The d e s c r i p t i o n of the journey r e p r e s e n t s the f i r s t ; 2 2 George Bluestone, Novels i n t o F i l m ( B a l t i m o r e : The John Hopkins Press, 1957), p. 63. 91 the r e f e r e n c e s to the L i s o n as a s h i p on a sea of snow the second; and the p o r t r a y a l of the s i t u a t i o n i n terms of a d e a t h l y s t r u g g l e between opposing elemental f o r c e s the t h i r d . L i s t e d thus an obvious gap e x i s t s between the f i r s t and t h i r d modes. However, the key to t h e i r e f f e c t i v e n e s s l i e s i n the i n t e r a c t i o n of the three l e v e l s , a p o i n t which w i l l be borne out by an examination of chapter seven. The opening paragraph immediately a s s o c i a t e s the t r a i n journey w i t h the weather c o n d i t i o n s . The snow i s not merely inc o n v e n i e n t , i t i s an out and out hazard: . . . i l s [Jacques et Pecqueux\ a v a i e n t eu un grognement d•inquietude, devant c e t t e neige ent'et^e, dont c r e v a i t l e c i e l n o i r i l s a t t e n d a i e n t l e coup de s i f f l e t . . . regardant l a tomb^e muette et sans f i n des f l o c o n s r a y e r l e s te"nebres d'un f r i s s o n l i v i d e . (p. 213) Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , the passengers seek refuge from the i c y c o n d i t i o n s : "La neige des chaussures ne se f o n d a i t meme pas; et l e s p o r t i e r e s se r e f e r m a i e n t a u s s i t 6 t , chacun se b a r r i c a d a i t , l e quai r e s t a i t desert . . . " (p. 214). The t r a i n p u l l s out of the s t a t i o n and: ". . . dans l a n u i t , l a lumiere e c l a t a n t e du f a n a l £tait comme mangle par ces e p a i s s e u r s b l a f a r d e s qui tombaient" (p. 214). Much i s condensed i n t o the l a s t few l i n e s and i n them i s a l s o c o n tained the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the p r e c e d i n g r e f e r e n c e s . Immediately remarkable are the terms i n which the snow i s 92 d e s c r i b e d . I t i s a looming presence — "dont c r e v a i t l e c i e l n o i r " — and an a l l encompassing mass — " l a tombde muette et sans f i n des f l o c o n s . . . . 1 1 F u r t h e r , the passengers do not simply take s h e l t e r . The r e f l e x i v e use of the verb " b a r r i c a d e r " i n t r o d u c e s a sense of s i e g e and the human element a c t u a l l y appears to be i n r e t r e a t b efore the i c y a s s a u l t . The scene i s dominated by three c o l o r s : b l a c k ( n i g h t ) , white (snow), and red ( f i r e — from the b o i l e r ) . The immediate impact i s that o f c o n t r a s t , b l a c k and white o v e r l a i d by v i v i d flame red, y e t the e f f e c t extends f u r t h e r . The f o r c e s denoted by the c o l o r s are i n c o m p e t i t i o n : " l a lumiere e c l a t a n t e du f a n a l etait comme mange"e par ces e p a i s s e u r s b l a f a r d e s . . . " (emphasis added). The switch from p a s s i v e to a c t i v e v o i c e has been made, indeed there has been a r e v e r s a l . The human element has been i n c a p a c i t a t e d , c o n f i n e d w i t h i n the c a r r i a g e s and cab of the t r a i n , and from a v a s t brooding presence the snow has been transformed i n t o an aggressor a g a i n s t which i s p i t t e d the locomotive, p e r s o n i f i e d i n t u r n by r e f e r e n c e s to the lamp a t i t s head as: ". . . un o e i l geant, e"largissant au l o i n , dans 1 • obscurite^, sa nappe d ' i n c e n d i e " (p. 214). During the course of the next few pages, the t r a i n ' s a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h f i r e i s r e i n f o r c e d , i t t r a i l s a "queue de comete, tr o u a n t l a n u i t . " The s e n s a t i o n of l a b o r i o u s progress i s enhanced by the way i n which the engine appears to be s e a r i n g a path through the darkness, darkness which i s i d e n t i f i e d by i t s d e n s i t y and a c t i v e l y j o i n s w i t h the snow to 93 form a b a r r i e r : Ce q u ' i l ^Jacques} s ' i m a g i n a i t d i s t i n g u e r , au-dela du pullulement pale des f l o c o n s , c ' e t a i e n t d'immenses formes n o i r e s , des masses c o n s i d e r a b l e s , comme des morceaux grants de l a n u i t , qui semblaient se d e p l a c e r et v e n i r au-devant de l a machine. (p. 218) I n v e r s e l y , Jacques and Pecqueux are i s o l a t e d and dwarfed by these m o n o l i t h i c f o r c e s . When Jacques s t r u g g l e s a c r o s s the engine to grease a c y l i n d e r , he i s compared wi t h "un i n s e c t e rampant" and e f f e c t i v e l y reduced to a mere speck which c o u l d be engulfed a t any moment. Indeed, death i s omnipresent. Snow forms a "shroud" around the t r a i n w h ile the w h i s t l e produces "un s i f f l e m e n t de d ^ t r e s s e q u i p l e u r a i t au fond de ce d e s e r t de n e i g e . " The r e f e r e n c e to the d e s e r t i n t r o d u c e s a new element i n t o the d e s c r i p t i o n . The emptiness and i s o l a t i o n are resumed i n an image of a v a s t white sea c l o s i n g about the locomotive which has, i n t u r n , become "un paquebot, l a i s s a n t un s i l l a g e " i n t h i s " d e s o l a t i o n d'un ocean de g l a c e , i m o b i l i s e dans l a tourmente" (p. 220). The end of the journey i s imminent. The engine i s brought to a s t a n d s t i l l then f r e e d o n l y to f a c e the prospect of being trapped a s h o r t d i s t a n c e ahead. An i n t e r e s t i n g s i t u a t i o n but not a p a r i c u l a r l y dramatic one. Drama i s generated by the o p e r a t i o n o f the metaphoric and e p i c - s y m b o l i c l e v e l s . The t r a i n ' s d i f f i c u l t passage through the snow becomes 94 a s t r u g g l e f o r s u r v i v a l on an i n c r e a s i n g l y l a r g e s c a l e . The l a b o r i n g engine a c q u i r e s the a t t r i b u t e s of an angry g i a n t e s s engaged i n b a t t l e : . . . l a L i s o n , r a i d i s s a n t l e s r e i n s , buta du p o i t r a i l , avec son s o u f f l e enragd de gdante. E n f i n e l l e parut reprendre h a l e i n e , e l l e banda ses muscles de mdtal en un supreme e f f o r t , e t e l l e passa . . . (p. 224) Zola's c o l o r f u l i m a g i n a t i o n transforms the engine i n t o a t r u l y amazonian f o r c e y e t a f u r t h e r t r a n s f o r m a t i o n i s about to occur. The lamp f r o n t i n g the b o i l e r p r o v i d e s the author w i t h the o p p o r t u n i t y to develop the p a r a l l e l : . . . l e f a n a l blanc . . . l u i s a i t dans l e j o u r , comme un o e i l v i v a n t de eyelope. E l l e r o u l a i t , e l l e a p p r o c h a i t de l a tranchee, avec cet o e i l largement ouvert. (emphasis added) (p. 225) The L i s o n i s i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the Cyclops, the one-eyed g i a n t of legend, and the a s s o c i a t i o n i s based not only on the s i n g l e lamp (su g g e s t i n g the one eye) but a l s o the l i n k with f i r e — the f i e r y glow of the lamp and the f i e r y h e art of the engine ("her" b o i l e r ) . In f a c t a t e l l i n g s w i tch has been made — a g l i d e from female to male. The locomotive now c l e a r l y r e p r e s e n t s the male f o r c e ; snow/water ( i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the sea — "une mer blanche" [p. 219} ) r e p r e s e n t s the 95 female f o r c e and the s t r u g g l e i s r e s o l v e d i n t o the c l a s h of male and female on a huge s c a l e . 23 The s i g n i f i c a n c e of the b a t t l e i s , of course, i t s outcome. The t r a i l of f i r e b l a z i n g from the furnace i s reduced to "un panache de fumee n o i r e , e p a i s s e , q u i s a l i s s a i t l e grand f r i s s o n p a l e du c i e l " (p. 225). Under t h i s f u n e r e a l banner the t r a i n c ontinues to advance but the t h r e a t of being swamped looms ever l a r g e r u n t i l : ". . . l a L i s o n s ' a r r e t a d e f i n i t i v e m e n t , e x p i r a n t e , dans l e grand f r o i d . Son s o u f f l e s ' e t e i g n i t , e l l e e t a i t immobile, et morte" (p. 225). Dead... and b u r i e d , Z o l a emphasizes the p o i n t : "La neige tombait t o u j o u r s , 1 ' e n s e v e l i s s a i t lentement, surement, avec une o b s t i n a t i o n muette" (p. 229). Matter has triumphed. The passengers of the t r a i n now share the f a t e of the i n h a b i t a n t s of the Croix-de-Maufras f o r they too are immobilized and trapped. The p a r a l l e l i s not c o i n c i d e n t a l . During the journey Jacques r e c a l l s : " The Cyclopes were male, furthermore they were a s s o c i a t e d w i t h f i r e as both sons of the storm gods and h e l p e r s of Hephaestus a t h i s f o r g e . Gaston Bachelard i n h i s work L'Eau e t l e s reVes. E s s a i sur 1'imagination de l a matiere ( P a r i s : C o r t i , 1942) d i s c u s s e s the s i g n i f i c a n c e of f i r e as the male element and water as the female element i n l i t e r a t u r e . In chapter seven of La Bfete humaine the locomotive ( f i r e ) i s notable f o r i t s powers o f p e n e t r a t i o n : "au-dessus du t r a i n . . . f l a m b a i t 1 ' ^ b l o u i s s a n t e queue de corriete, t rouant l a n u i t " (emphasis added), w h i l e the snow envelops and i s r e f e r r e d to on one o c c a s i o n as "une s o r t e de b r o u i l l a r d l a i t e u x , ou l e s choses ne s u r g i s s a i e n t que t r e s rapprochees, a i n s i qu'au fond d'un r e v e " (emphasis added), a r e f e r e n c e which i s , a c c o r d i n g to Bachelard, an unmistakable s i g n of the female myth. 96 . . . une tranchde profonde, q u i se t r o u v a i t a t r o i s cents metres e n v i r o n de l a Croix-de-Maufras: e l l e s ' o u v r a i t dans l a d i r e c t i o n du vent, l a neige d e v a i t s'y e t r e accumulee en q u a n t i t y c o n s i d e r a b l e ; e t , tout de s u i t e , i l eut l a c e r t i t u d e que c ' e t a i t l a l ' e c u e i l marque oh i l n a u f r a g e r a i t . (emphasis added) (pp. 224-225) The metaphors o f s h i p and shipwreck connect with the Croix-de-Maufras. The a r e a i s r e p e a t e d l y d e s c r i b e d i n terms of a w i l d e r n e s s cut o f f from the r e s t o f the country and, i t has a l r e a d y been noted, the s t a s i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the Croix-de-Maufras p r o v i d e s the b a s i s f o r the development of the novel's c e n t r a l theme — the c o n t r a s t of atavism and p r o g r e s s . When the t r a i n makes i t s unscheduled stop c i v i l i z a t i o n i s stranded a t the Croix-de-Maufras and " l ' o r d r e n a t u r e l etait p e r v e r t i . " The n a t i v e s of the c r o s s i n g : . . . d e v i s a g e a i e n t ce monde inconnu qu'un a c c i d e n t j e t a i t sur l a v o i e , i l s l e contemplaient avec des yeux ronds de sauvages, accourus sur une cote o\i des Europeens n a u f r a g e r a i e n t . (p. 227) While a t the c r o s s i n g keeper's cottage Jacques q u e s t i o n s Phasie about her i l l n e s s and Misard's p a r t i n i t . The s i c k woman r e p l i e s : "Je s a i s q u ' i l veut me manger, et moi je ne veux pas q u ' i l me mange, na t u r e l l e m e n t " (p. 233). The response i s formulated i n terms which r e c a l l an e a r l i e r d e s c r i p t i o n , t h a t of the passage of the t r a i n through the 97 snow. To r e i t e r a t e : "Mais, dans l a n u i t , l a lumiere £clatante du f a n a l 6 t a i t comme mangle par ces e'paisseurs b l a f a r d e s q u i tombaient" (emphasis added). A p p r o p r i a t e l y the focus has r e t u r n e d to the c h a r a c t e r s and the s t r u g g l e f o r dominance c a r r i e d on between p a r t i c u l a r c o uples. A p p r o p r i a t e l y because the Croix-de-Maufras i s the core of the symbolism a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the a l i e n a t i o n which opposes Male and Female — the F a l l . Through the i n t e r a c t i o n of the three t e x t u a l modes — n a r r a t i v e , metaphoric and e p i c - s y m b o l i c — the novel expresses a c o n t i n u a l movement upwards and outwards, e s c a l a t i n g from the i n d i v i d u a l to the cosmic through a s e r i e s of i n t e r l o c k i n g s t r u g g l e s between male and female. Emphasis on the l i n e a r i t y of the l i t e r a r y technique — t h a t i s , i t s s e p a r a t i o n i n t o three d i s t i n c t l e v e l s of o p e r a t i o n — may b e l i e the complexity of the e f f e c t s achieved. Even a c u r s o r y examination of chapter seven r e v e a l s the o v e r l a p p i n g s i g n i f i c a n c e of the v a r i o u s elements t h a t i t c o n t a i n s . The metaphor of the shipwreck, f o r example, has a number of r a m i f i c a t i o n s . The immediate i m p l i c a t i o n i s t h a t of d i s a s t e r , the second i s o l a t i o n . The image c o i n c i d e s n e a t l y w i t h the god-forsaken atmosphere which surrounds the Croix-de-Maufras. References to o u t c a s t s and the w i l d e r n e s s soon a c q u i r e mythic overtones when con s i d e r e d i n the context of the house at the c r o s s i n g . Yet the Genesis s t o r y i s not the only element of myth present i n the n o v e l . The drama of La Be^te humaine i s t h a t of p h y s i c a l 98 p a s s i o n ; i t s s e t t i n g i s the u n r e l i e v e d c o r p o r a l i t y of a p h y s i c a l environment. Here n i g h t has the ascendancy i n a world d i v i d e d between b l a c k and white, darkness and l i g h t ; a world i n which sexual d e s i r e takes the form of an urge f o r o b l i t e r a t i o n . T h i s i s the realm where (dark) Eros r e i g n s supreme. U n e q u i v o c a l l y , one can add Manicheanism to the l i s t o f Z o la's mythic i n g r e d i e n t s . So c l o s e l y are elements interwoven i n the n o v e l i s t ' s c r e a t i v e scheme t h a t i d e n t i t y becomes s y n t h e s i s . However, i n the l i g h t of h i s admix of myths i t might be b e t t e r d e s c r i b e d as s y n c r e t i s m . Heresy and orthodoxy mingle under Z o l a ' s pen, p a s s i v e becoming a c t i v e as f u s i o n ( i n the Manichean sense) tu r n s i n t o c a n n i b a l i s m and e s c a l a t e s u n t i l h i s f i c t i o n a l u n i v e r s e r e s o l v e s i t s e l f i n t o opposing f o r c e s of T i t a n i c dimensions. Thus, through a process of l i t e r a r y a m p l i f i c a t i o n , Z o l a i n f l a t e s h i s o r i g i n a l theme to g r a n d i l o q u e n t p r o p o r t i o n s . And darkness, f a r from a symbol o f moral decay, i s f e l t as a m a t e r i a l e n t i t y animated by a malignant s p i r i t of i t s own. * * Renoir r e v e r s e s the impetus and r e t u r n s the focus to the i n d i v i d u a l c h a r a c t e r s a t the c e n t e r of the p l o t . Yet, although the scope of the drama i s reduced, f i l m e f f e c t s i t s own k i n d of a m p l i f i c a t i o n . The s t a g i n g of Grandmorin's murder o f f e r s one example. 99 The k i l l i n g i s not a c t u a l l y shown, i n s t e a d an atmosphere of growing t e n s i o n i s c r e a t e d which i s designed to p a r a l l e l the e s c a l a t i o n o f Roubaud's f u r y and i t s i n e v i t a b l e c u l m i n a t i o n . The camera i s t r a i n e d on the s h u t t e r e d door to Grandmorin's compartment. Music r i s e s to a crescendo, l i g h t s glimmer s p a s m o d i c a l l y through the b l i n d i n d i c a t i n g the speed of the locomotive as i t ra c e s past s t a t i o n s ; the c a r r i a g e rocks and sways. Suddenly a s h a f t o f l i g h t r i c o c h e t s along the c o r r i d o r . The a c t of murder has been p r e c i s e l y p i n p o i n t e d . When the l i g h t s l i c e s through the t w i l i g h t o f the c o r r i d o r the audience knows t h a t Roubaud has plunged the k n i f e i n t o Grandmorin*s body. The p a i n s t a k i n g d e s c r i p t i o n o f the murder g i v e n by SeVerine (chapter e i g h t ) has been condensed i n t o a scene o f a few moments d u r a t i o n combining l i g h t , music and sound-track to c l i m a c t i c e f f e c t . S i m u l t a n e i t y i s i n f a c t the key to i t s e f f e c t i v e n e s s . F i l m engages both v i s u a l and a u r a l senses thereby i n c r e a s i n g the emotive impact of the a c t i o n . Moreover, the ci n e m a t i c medium gains g r e a t l y from i t s a b i l i t y to appeal to the i m a g i n a t i o n . The impact of the example under d i s c u s s i o n i s generated p r e c i s e l y because the a c t of murder i s not shown. The f r e n e t i c i n t e r a c t i o n o f l i g h t and sound i s f a r more eloquent than a shot of a k n i f e t h r u s t succeeded by more shots of a b l o o d i e d corpse. W r i t t e n and ci n e m a t i c media appear to operate l a r g e l y on a p r i n c i p l e o f mutual e x c l u s i o n . The c r e a t i o n o f f i g u r a l meaning i n the f i r s t i s the r e s u l t o f l i n e a r development 100 while i n the second s i m u l t a n e i t y i s i t s source. However, d e s p i t e the f a c t t h a t the s t y l i s t i c techniques of the former o f t e n exceed the l i m i t s of f i l m i c e x p r e s s i o n , the l a t t e r may compensate wi t h the immediacy of i t s images. The work of t h r i l l e r w r i t e r Ian Fleming, f o r example, gains i n impact i n i t s f i l m v e r s i o n s . T h i s i s the case because i t i s based p r i m a r i l y i n a c t i o n . Works of a more contemplative nature and which have g r e a t e r recourse to the f i g u r a l dimension of language are more probl e m a t i c f o r the film-maker. Indeed, the crux of the problem i s l o c a t e d i n areas of o v e r l a p p i n g s i g n i f i c a n c e . In La B£te humaine the locomotive r e p r e s e n t s j u s t such an a r e a . The d i v e r g e n t t r e n d a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the t r a i n has a l r e a d y been i n d i c a t e d . In r e l a t i o n to Jacques, the engine d r i v e r , the L i s o n i s not only f e m i n i z e d but a l s o a c q u i r e s a female s e x u a l i t y . Jacques, i t i s s t a t e d , l o v e s "her" "en m c i l e r e c o n n a i s s a n t . " H i s d r i v e back to Le Havre i n chapter f i v e i s d e s c r i b e d i n o v e r t l y sexual terms: " I I a v a i t rarement s e n t i l a L i s o n s i o b e i s s a n t e ; i l l a posse'dait, l a chevauchait a sa g u i s e , avec l ' a b s o l u e v o l o n t e du m a i t r e " (pp. 184-185). But the locomotive i s a l s o a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the savage power of the beast, a p o i n t which i s e s p e c i a l l y e v i d e n t i n chapter e l e v e n when the resurgence of Jacques's mania i s d e s c r i b e d . The imminence of h i s l o s s of c o n t r o l i s expressed i n the speed and f e r o c i t y of the p a s s i n g t r a i n s and the blow f a l l s j u s t as the P a r i s express h u r t l e s by; then Jacques too plunges i n t o the n i g h t and disappears : ". . . et i l 101 s ' e n f u i t . . . se lanc.a dehors, dans l a n u i t d'encre, ou son galop se p e r d i t , f u r i e u x " (p. 350). The t r a i n i s here being e x p l o i t e d f o r i t s male p r o p e r t i e s — the v i r i l e surge of speed which, a s s o c i a t e d with i t s shape, has p h a l l i c c o n n o t ations, n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g the f a c t t h a t the v i c t i m s are always female. The beast i s unmistakably a male f o r c e . The author, however, does not attempt to r e c o n c i l e the apparent c o n t r a d i c t i o n . In f a c t he compounds i t by r e f e r r i n g to the t r a i n i n a number of other r e g i s t e r s ; as a "bete dompte'e" or a g i g a n t i c being of metal s t r i v i n g to serve Jacques (a d e s c r i p t i o n separate from the e v o c a t i o n of the C y c l o p s ) . C l e a r l y , the locomotive i s an androgynous e n t i t y and one which f i l l s a m u l t i t u d e of r o l e s . The c o e x i s t e n c e of these v a r i o u s images r a i s e s an i n t e r e s t i n g p o i n t concerning the t r a n s f e r e n c e of what may be termed m u l t i p l e v a l u e s to f i l m . The n o v e l i s t can animate a f i c t i o n a l o b j e c t , use and re-use i t f o r a v a r i e t y of s t y l i s t i c ends. But u n l e s s one moves i n t o the realm of c a r t o o n animation, the f i l m d i r e c t o r enjoys a l e s s f l e x i b l e r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h h i s o b j e c t i v e m a t e r i a l . R enoir's p r e s e n t a t i o n of the t r a i n i s a case i n p o i n t . The d i r e c t o r i n t e n s i f i e s the impression o f u n r e s t r a i n e d power by the use of camera angles and framing. He subsequently i n t r o d u c e s a t r a i n i n t o scenes which focus on Jacques i n a v i o l e n t s t a t e . The passage o f a t r a i n i n t e r r u p t s Jacques as he i s s t r a n g l i n g F l o r e ; a f t e r SeVerine's murder an engine h u r t l e s past him as he walks b l i n d l y through the n i g h t . Renoir i s h i g h l i g h t i n g q u a l i t i e s 102 germane to the locomotive and a s s o c i a t i n g them wit h the f e r o c i t y o f Jacques's compulsion. The l i n k i s emphasized by music. The dramatic s t r a i n s t h a t accompany moments of v i o l e n c e or r e f e r e n c e s to Jacques's mania are a l s o used to o r c h e s t r a t e images of the t r a i n i n motion. Thus by i d e n t i f y i n g the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f an o b j e c t w i t h those o f a major p r o t a g o n i s t , the d i r e c t o r e f f e c t i v e l y extends the value o f the o b j e c t i n q u e s t i o n . What he i s not ab l e to do of course i s d i v e r s i f y the o b j e c t i t s e l f . The p r e c e d i n g o b s e r v a t i o n s are i n d i c a t i v e o f f i l m ' s p o t e n t i a l f o r f i g u r a l e x p r e s s i o n . An examination o f some examples from Renoir's work w i l l e x p l a i n why. The d i r e c t o r goes to some lengths to a v o i d the s t a g i n g o f e x p l i c i t l y v i o l e n t or sexual scenes. Such an o c c a s i o n i s the consummation of Jacques and SeVerine's r e l a t i o n s h i p . The couple meet s e c r e t l y one r a i n y n i g h t ; they disappear i n s i d e a shed. The camera focuses on a bucket which i s f i l l i n g r a p i d l y from the downpour. The o v e r f l o w i n g bucket i s i n f a c t a v i s u a l metaphor designed to convey the i n t e n s i t y of p h y s i c a l p a s s i o n t a k i n g p l a c e i n s i d e the shed. When the r a i n eases and f i n a l l y stops the couple emerge. The technique i s r e m i n i s c e n t o f that used i n P a r t i e de campagne when the f u l l - t h r o a t e d s i n g i n g o f a b i r d i n a nearby bush r e p l a c e s the scene of p h y s i c a l love as i t nears i t s consummation. In each case the o b j e c t which assumes a metaphorical r o l e i s i n t e g r a l to the scene. In LA BETE HUMAINE, f o r i n s t a n c e , a c t i o n occurs d u r i n g a 103 thunderstorm when Jacques and SeVerine seek s h e l t e r , hence the e x t e r i o r view of a shed and water f l o w i n g from a g u t t e r i n t o a bucket- F u r t h e r , the nature of the a c t i o n which i s not shown i s i m p l i c i t i n the t u r b u l e n c e of the deluge. Thus where d i v e r s i f i c a t i o n p l a y s an important r o l e i n the f o r m u l a t i o n o f f i g u r a l meaning i n the l i t e r a r y medium, c o n t e x t u a l i z a t i o n i s an e s s e n t i a l p a r t of the c r e a t i o n of f i g u r a l meaning i n f i l m . Nowhere i s t h i s more c l e a r l y demonstrated than i n the d i r e c t o r ' s approach to composition and l i g h t i n g . Those on the t r a i n when Grandmorin was murdered are c a l l e d f o r q u e s t i o n i n g by the examining m a g i s t r a t e . Roubaud, SeVerine and Jacques wait t h e i r t u r n . The two men stand a t o p p o s i t e s i d e s of the s m a l l room. They are separated by a s h a f t of l i g h t w h i le they themselves are p a r t i a l l y obscured by bars of shadow. Throughout the i n q u i r y scene l i g h t i s disposed i n t h i s way — a patch of l i g h t succeeded by s t r i p s o f shadow c a s t by a lowered b l i n d . Undoubtedly these bars bear a metaphorical r e l a t i o n s h i p to the more s u b s t a n t i a l bars of a p r i s o n c e l l . The e f f e c t c e r t a i n l y c onjures the prospect of imminent l o s s of l i b e r t y thereby c o n t r i b u t i n g to the tense atmosphere. The composition i s e f f e c t i v e f o r another reason. L i g h t d i v i d e s the space i n t o two d i s t i n c t a reas. The men f a c e each other but t h e i r e x p r e s s i o n s are v e i l e d by shadow. T h i s p h y s i c a l d i s p o s i t i o n a c t u a l l y c r y s t a l i z e s the dramatic undercurrents of the s i t u a t i o n . The p r o t a g o n i s t s are 104 separated by t h e i r doubt and m i s t r u s t of each o t h e r . N e i t h e r knows how the other w i l l r e a c t . Roubaud's anxious thoughts are e a s i l y imagined: "Does he suspect?" " W i l l he denounce us?" While Jacques i s no doubt wondering what motivates the couple and what SeVerine's involvement i s . A l l t h i s i s a c c e s s i b l e to the audience but the motives of each c h a r a c t e r remain hidden from the o t h e r . L i g h t and shadow have a comparable f u n c t i o n i n the scene i n which Severine s u r p r i s e s Roubaud removing money from the cache. The s e t t i n g : Roubauds' apartment i n near darkness. Close up of Roubaud bending over the cache, h i s f a c e i n shadow. A s h a f t of l i g h t c u t s a c r o s s the f l o o r ; he looks up, s t a r t l e d . Close up of SeVerine framed i n the doorway. She shouts a c c u s i n g l y a t Roubaud: "Voleur! V o l e u r ! " Towards the end of the f i l m Renoir p a r a l l e l s t h i s scene. Roubaud goes once more to the h i d i n g p l a c e and takes out Grandmorin's watch. F i n d i n g the k n i f e d i s c a r d e d by Jacques he gets up and approaches the open bedroom door, s t i l l c a r r y i n g the watch. The camera g i v e s a r e a r view of Roubaud o u t l i n e d i n the doorway, then focuses on the watch hanging from h i s hand. The n a r r a t i v e l i n k i s c l e a r , the d i r e c t o r i s u n d e r l i n i n g the conne c t i o n between SeVerine's murder and Grandmorin's. More than t h i s he i s s u g g e s t i n g the i n d i v i d u a l ' s d u p l i c i t y a g a i n s t the background of a shared s e c r e t . Thus Severine d i s c o v e r s Roubaud i n the a c t of " s t e a l i n g " to pay f o r h i s gambling and Roubaud, i n t u r n , e n t e r s a room onl y to f i n d the evidence of Jacques's deadly s e c r e t . The i n t e r p l a y of l i g h t and shadow 105 i s common to the three main c h a r a c t e r s and has the dual e f f e c t of u n i t i n g them i n the unstated knowledge of the crime and, c o n v e r s e l y , o f i s o l a t i n g them. T h e i r i n d i v i d u a l doubts and m o t i v a t i o n s make them impenetrable, e n c l o s i n g them i n the dark shadows of the ego. The deadly game of hide-and-seek between what i s r e v e a l e d and what remains hidden i s expressed b e a u t i f u l l y by Renoir's c h i a r o s c u r o approach to l i g h t i n g , c u l m i n a t i n g i n the murder of SeVerine. The l o v e r s l i e i n wait f o r Roubaud; SeVerine k i s s e s Jacques. T h i s a c t i o n t r i g g e r s h i s mania. He s e i z e s her; SeVerine's eyes widen w i t h h o r r o r and she s t r u g g l e s to escape. Jacques reaches f o r the k n i f e ; the lower p a r t of h i s f a c e i s i n shadow, the upper p a r t i n l i g h t . The camera focuses on h i s c o n t o r t e d f e a t u r e s . SeVerine's shocked v o i c e echoes i n the room: "Pourquoi, Jacques? Pourquoi?" But t h i s i s no longer Jacques and onl y now, when i t i s too l a t e , does SeVerine glimpse the dark depths o f h i s being, the d u p l i c i t y of Jacques's nature which i t was beyond h i s power to c o n t r o l . T h i s scene i s the heart o f the drama as envisaged by Renoir. In i t the v a r i o u s elements u t i l i z e d by the d i r e c t o r combine and come to f r u i t i o n : c o n t r a s t ( c r o s s c u t t i n g to the b a l l ) ; the m i r r o r m o t i f (Jacques's glimpse o f h i m s e l f i n the g l a s s ) ; and, not l e a s t , l i g h t i n g which throws i n t o g r e a t e r r e l i e f the paradox developed through the technique o f c o n t r a s t . Indeed, the source of the f i l m ' s e f f e c t i v e n e s s l i e s i n the way i n which o p p o s i t e s are p o i s e d and that d e l i c a t e balance i s then t i p p e d w i t h i n c r e a s i n g v e l o c i t y to one 106 s i d e . . . the d a r k e s t . Zola's novel c o u l d be regarded as an e l a b o r a t i o n o f the ex p r e s s i o n " c a r n a l knowledge," s i n c e i t uses the Genesis s t o r y and other mythic elements s o l e l y i n order to evoke the ascendancy o f man's c o r p o r e a l e x i s t e n c e . The f i l m e x p l o i t s a d i f f e r e n t angle. Under Renoir's d i r e c t i o n , a c t i o n i s no longer informed by a vague theory o f atavism, formulated i n terms which r e v e a l a deeply rooted awareness o f t r a n s g r e s s i o n . Instead, one i s l e f t w i t h a s t r o n g sense o f the implacable nature of e x i s t e n c e . Z o l a p r e s e n t s an extreme view of the human c o n d i t i o n . Renoir shows us the i n t r i n s i c weakness of the human s t a t e . I f one can t a l k o f the i n f l u e n c e o f myth i n r e l a t i o n to the f i l m , i t must be i n the r e s i d u a l awareness of the F a l l suggested by the p o r t r a y a l o f man's flawed nature. Jacques, SeVerine and Roubaud are a l l p r i m a r i l y v i c t i m s o f t h e i r own weaknesses, but t h e i r s i t u a t i o n i s a l s o a microcosm of a wider and e q u a l l y i r o n i c s t a t e — t h a t o f l i f e i t s e l f . Moral condemnation does not f i g u r e i n e i t h e r book or f i l m , i t i s out of p l a c e i n both. Z o l a s e t out to d e p i c t b e s t i a l i t y i n the s o - c a l l e d human s p e c i e s . Renoir's c h a r a c t e r s remain c l o s e d w i t h i n t h e i r own egoes. Awareness dawns onl y i n extremis and i s not accompanied by understanding s i n c e , by then, the s i t u a t i o n exceeds human r a t i o n a l e . Undoubtedly the techniques employed by Renoir produce an a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t emphasis from t h a t found i n the n o v e l . The s t o r y — a doomed love s e t a g a i n s t the background 107 of a f a t a l compulsion — remains the same; i t i s the u n d e r l y i n g f e a t u r e s which have changed. In e f f e c t , s t o r y (composed of c h a r a c t e r s and events) i s d i v i s i b l e from the r e s t of the novel — t h a t i s , i t s thematic content. Theme, however, i s i n d e l i b l y l i n k e d with the w r i t t e n word through which i t i s expressed. Thus, anyone undertaking an a d a p t a t i o n : . . . looks not to the o r g a n i c n o v e l , whose language i s i n s e p a r a b l e from i t s theme, but to c h a r a c t e r s and i n c i d e n t s which have somehow detached themselves from language and, l i k e the heroes of f o l k legends, have achieved a mythic l i f e o f t h e i r own. 2 4 Consequently, the i n t e g r a t i o n of theme and form i s such t h a t a l t e r a t i o n of the novel's content i s not a by-product of the process of a d a p t a t i o n but i n t r i n s i c to i t . Theme i s not so much subordinate to form, i t i s i n s e p a r a b l e from i t . 24 Bluestone, p.62 108 Concluding Remarks T h i s study of La Bete humaine and i t s c o n v e r s i o n i n t o f i l m f u n c t i o n s as a balance sheet. Throughout emphasis has f a l l e n , w i t h i n c r e a s i n g i n s i s t e n c e , on the d i s p a r i t y between novel and f i l m . Almost a t once, comparison r e v e a l e d a t o n i n g down of the v i o l e n c e which i s i n t r i n s i c to the n o v e l . Z o l a ' s c h a r a c t e r s , d e f i n e d by s p e c i f i c p h y s i c a l f e a t u r e s which i d e n t i f y them as types, share a common v i g o r , a b a r e l y r e s t r a i n e d urge to v i o l e n c e or p a s s i o n . Renoir's treatment of the c h a r a c t e r s a l s o produces a s e r i e s of types; these, however, i n d i c a t e a d i s t i n c t l y bourgeois c o n c e p t i o n of c h a r a c t e r . S i m i l a r l y , a c t i o n i s s u b j e c t to moderation. In the f i l m the extent to which v i o l e n c e i s d e p i c t e d i s c o n s i d e r a b l y l e s s than i n the n o v e l . Renoir's approach to scenes with v i o l e n t or sexual content and which i n the t e x t are d e s c r i b e d i n d e t a i l , i s d e l i b e r a t e l y e v a s i v e . On s e v e r a l o c c a s i o n s the d i r e c t o r , r a t h e r than c u t t i n g from a scene, p r e f e r s to b l o c k a c t i o n out by t r a i n i n g the camera on a c l o s e d door. N e c e s s i t y i n the form of c e n s o r s h i p laws p r o v i d e s one reason, y e t p r e f e r e n c e should a l s o be c o n s i d e r e d . Renoir, observes P o u l l e , "se contente de suggerer l e s accouplements par des images p o e t i q u e s , " furthermore, ". . . i l se dispense compfetement du p o n c i f , s i 109 f r a n c a i s , du couple au l i t . " Z o l a ' s i n s i s t e n t p o r t r a y a l o f c o p u l a t i o n i n beds, sheds or dark alleyways was c l e a r l y too b l a t a n t f o r the film-maker's t a s t e s . The mood of the f i l m i s p e s s i m i s t i c . The source o f t h i s pessimism and the sense o f i n e v i t a b i l i t y which c o n t r i b u t e s to i t , are to be found i n the somber tone o f the f i l m ' s images. U n r e l i e v e d darkness i s , however, l e s s e f f e c t i v e than the i n t e r p l a y o f two d i f f e r e n t shades. The c o n t r a s t o f l i g h t w i t h dark enhances the depth o f the l a t t e r . With an a r t i s t ' s a p p r e c i a t i o n of shading, Renoir c o u n t e r p o i n t s dark w i t h l i g h t . N i g h t / b l a c k n e s s i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f the f i l m ' s backdrop and, because o f t h i s , scenes which a t f i r s t appear unremarkable assume unexpected poignancy. Jacques d e s c r i b e s a s u n l i t landscape to SeVerine and the image evoked by h i s words stands i n sharp c o n t r a s t to the " r e a l i t y " o f the dark shunting y a r d . Thus i t i s not hope, or even romance, which c o l o r s the atmosphere but f o r e b o d i n g as shadows c l o s e around the couple. Indeed, as the c h a r a c t e r s ' hopes and dreams are engulfed by a bleak and in e s c a p a b l e r e a l i t y , Renoir's use of c o n t r a s t generates a l e v e l o f f i g u r a l meaning which h i g h l i g h t s the g u l f between man's a s p i r a t i o n s and h i s a b i l i t i e s . C o n t r a s t i s a l s o evident i n the n o v e l . Snow, f o r example, o f f s e t s the blackness o f the pre-dawn sky (chapter seven). Yet here i t i s used p u r e l y to i d e n t i f y 2 5 P o u l l e , p. 29. 110 opposing elements. More imp o r t a n t l y , these elements are c h a r a c t e r i z e d by what they have i n common — t h e i r m a t e r i a l substance. The c o n t r a s t o f c o l o r i s , t h e r e f o r e , p a r t o f a wider phenomenon. A phenomenon which has as i t s b a s i s the e s s e n t i a l homogeneity of a l l the elements, both animate and inanimate, which c o n s t i t u t e the world of the n o v e l . The use of c o n t r a s t , more than any of the other changes made by Renoir, p i n p o i n t s the d i f f e r e n c e i n h i s approach. While i n search o f an e x p l a n a t i o n f o r the f i l m ' s departure from the n o v e l , one may have noted not onl y the d i f f e r e n t p e r s o n a l i t i e s o f n o v e l i s t and film-maker but, e q u a l l y , the d i f f e r e n t eras i n which each l i v e d , and the impact of a d i f f e r e n t s e t of a t t i t u d e s and conventions on t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l p e r c e p t i o n s . However, something more fundamental than background or pe r s o n a l t a s t e was found to account f o r the extent to which novel and f i l m d i f f e r . The org a n i c nature o f the r e l a t i o n s h i p between theme and form means, q u i t e simply, t h a t when the l a t t e r changes, so must the former. A c c o r d i n g l y , j u s t as Z o l a chose a theme s u i t e d to h i s medium, Renoir s e l e c t e d a theme which he co u l d t r e a t e l o q u e n t l y on f i l m . Indeed, the d i r e c t o r a p p l i e s the c r i t e r i o n o u t l i n e d by B ^ l a Ba l a z s , a c c o r d i n g to whom the film-maker: . . . may use the e x i s t i n g work of a r t merely as raw m a t e r i a l , regard i t from the s p e c i f i c angle o f h i s own a r t form as i f i t were raw r e a l i t y , and pay no a t t e n t i o n to the form once a l r e a d y g i v e n to the m a t e r i a l . The pl a y w r i g h t , 111 Shakespeare, r e a d i n g a s t o r y by Bandello, saw i n i t not the a r t i s t i c form of a masterpiece of s t o r y - t e l l i n g but merely the naked event n a r r a t e d i n i t . 2 6 Yet what are the i m p l i c a t i o n s of the above f o r Renoir's c l a i m to f i d e l i t y ? H i s statement may now be r e a s s e s s e d : . . . j ' a i 6t4 a u s s i f i d d l e que je l ' a i pu "a 1 ' e s p r i t du l i v r e ; Je n'en a i pas s u i v i 1 ' i n t r i g u e , mais j ' a i t o u j o u r s pense* q u ' i l v a l a i t mieux "§tre f i d e l e a 1 ' e s p r i t d'une oeuvre o r i g i n a l e qu'a sa forme e x t ^ r i e u r e . . . . j ' a i pense au cOte* po^tique de Z o l a . 2 7 Renoir's words r e v e a l a simple m o t i v a t i o n . The d i r e c t o r i s e r e c t i n g a defense i n the hope of disarming c r i t i c i s m . Behind t h i s smokescreen he i s r e a l l y s a y i n g t h a t he s e l e c t e d the elements he c o u l d e x p l o i t to f u l l e s t e f f e c t on f i l m and then r e l i e d on h i s own s k i l l s to develop the p r o j e c t . However, i f t h i s study has r e v e a l e d a l a c k of s i n c e r i t y i n Renoir's a s s e r t i o n s w i t h regard to LA BETE HUMAINE, i t has a l s o uncovered the i n h e r e n t f a l s e n e s s o f the premise upon which the concept of f i d e l i t y i s based — namely, that the 26 B 6la B a l a z s , Theory of the F i l m ( C h a r a c t e r and Growth of a New A r t ) , t r a n s . E d i t h Bone (London: Dennis Dobson L t d . , 1952), p. 263. 2 7 R i v e t t e et T r u f f a u t , " E n t r e t i e n avec Jean Renoir," p.4. 112 media should and do correspond. To e r e c t a p r i n c i p l e of f i d e l i t y and judge an a d a p t a t i o n s t r i c t l y on the extent to which i t adheres to the o r i g i n a l i s p a t e n t l y a n a i v e and mistaken approach. U n f o r t u n a t e l y , i t i s j u s t as obvious t h a t t h i s i l l - f o u n d e d n o t i o n of f i d e l i t y w i l l continue to dog the h e e l s of any film-maker who undertakes the a d a p t a t i o n of a n o v e l , as long as the p u b l i c continues to regard the w r i t t e n work as a p r e - e s t a b l i s h e d canon. The d i r e c t o r must t h e r e f o r e f e e l the i n v i d i o u s n e s s of h i s p o s i t i o n . He i s being judged wi t h l i t t l e hope of p u t t i n g h i s own case. The sense of g u i l t u n d e r l y i n g Renoir's words i s now more comprehensible. LA BE^TE HUMAINE r e c e i v e d mixed c r i t i c a l response. Maurice Bessy i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the f a v o r a b l e r e a c t i o n , e x c l a i m i n g : " V o i c i l e p l u s beau f i l m que j ' a i vu depuis d i x ans!" Leprohon, who a l l u d e s to Bessy's response to the f i l m , a s s o c i a t e s t h i s enthusiasm wi t h what he d e s c r i b e s as " D-la grandeur du f i l m , " which he l o c a t e s i n i t s c o n s t r u c t i o n : ". . . c e t t e c o n j o n c t i o n d'elements p l a s t i q u e s 29 et du rythme." Both the f i l m ' s s t r u c t u r e and i t s rhythm d e r i v e from the d i r e c t o r ' s use o f the r a i l w a y . Indeed, i t i s i n h i s e x p l o i t a t i o n of the r a i l w a y t h a t Renoir touches " l e cSte" poetique de Z o l a . " The t r a i n scans and punctuates the 2 8 Chardere, p. 264. p q ° Leprohon, p. 80. 113 f i l m and, from the opening frames, engages the thread of c a u s a l i t y . What one witnesses i s , i n f a c t , l e s s the p o e t i c aspect of Z o l a , which reposes i n the savage and o f t e n h a l l u c i n a t o r y atmosphere c r e a t e d by h i s prose, than the p o e t i c aspect of Renoir r e v e a l e d i n the comprehensive and p r o f e s s i o n a l way i n which he r e a l i z e s the f u l l p o t e n t i a l o f images of the t r a i n i n motion. O v e r a l l , i t i s the ways i n which LA BETE HUMAINE d i f f e r s from the novel t h a t make the f i l m most memorable. The p o r t r a y a l of the r a i l w a y workers, f o r example, and i n p a r t i c u l a r C a r e t t e who, as Pecqueux, b r i n g s humor to the f i l m but i n such a way t h a t i t i n t e g r a t e s p e r f e c t l y with the camaraderie of h i s c o l l e a g u e s . Or the scene between Jacques and F l o r e i n the meadow which, because of the p a s t o r a l i m p l i c a t i o n s of the s e t t i n g , encapsulates the b i t t e r n e s s of the engine d r i v e r ' s s i t u a t i o n . To conclude: i t must be s a i d t h a t Renoir takes what i s d i f f u s e i n Z o l a and condenses i t u n t i l i t has the g l i s t e n i n g , compact q u a l i t i e s of a diamond. I f he i s g u i l t y of anything i t i s the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of a complex and o v e r l y emphatic novel i n t o a r i g o r o u s and v i s u a l l y e x c i t i n g f i l m . A c c o r d i n g l y , the q u e s t i o n that should be asked i s not: "Was Renoir f a i t h f u l to the o r i g i n a l ? " but "Did Renoir make a good f i l m ? " I b e l i e v e the answer i s yes. T h i s i s so because Jean Renoir was f a i t h f u l . . . to h i s own a r t form. 114 Works Consulted The Novel Bachelard, Gaston. L'Eau et l e s reVes. E s s a i sur 1'imagination de l a matiere. P a r i s : C o r t i , 1942. B a r i o l i , Marc. Le T r a i n dans l a l i t t e r a t u r e f r a n c a i s e . P a r i s : E d i t i o n s N. M., 1964. Bernard, Marc. Z o l a par lui-meme. E c r i v a i n s de Toujours. P a r i s : E d i t i o n s du S e u i l , 1971. B o r i e , Jean. Z o l a et l e s mythes ou de l a naus^e au s a l u t . P a r i s : E d i t i o n s du S e u i l , 1971. Brown, C a l v i n S. R e p e t i t i o n i n Z o l a ' s Novels. Athens: U n i v e r s i t y of G eorgia P r e s s , 1952. Duncan, P h i l i p A. "Zola's Machine Monsters." Romance Notes, i i i (1962), 1-3. Hemmings, F. W. J . Emile Z o l a . London: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1966. Jagmetti, A n t o i n e t t e . "La Be^te humaine" d'Emile Z o l a : etude de s t y l i s t i q u e c r i t i q u e . Geneve: L i b r a i r i e E. Droz, 1955. Kanes, M a r t i n . Z o l a ' s "La Be^te humaine": A Study i n L i t e r a r y Creation. Berkeley: Univ. of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1962. Martino, P i e r r e . Le Naturalisme f r a n c a i s (1870-1895). P a r i s : L i b r a i r i e Armand C o l i n , 1930. Matthews, J . H. "The Railway i n Z o l a ' s La Bete humaine." Symposium, S p r i n g (1960), 13-14. Rougemont, Denis de. L'Amour et 1 ' O c c i d e n t . P a r i s : U.G.E., 1962. Z o l a , Emile. La Bete humaine. P a r i s : Garnier-Flammarion, 1972. Z o l a , Emile. L e t t e r s to J . Van Santen K o l f f . Ed. R. J . N i e s s . S t . L o u i s : Washington U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1940. 116 The F i l m B a l a z s , B e l a . Theory of the F i l m (Character and Growth of a New A r t . Trans. E d i t h Bone. London: Dennis Dobson L t d . , 1952. Bazi n , Andre*. Jean Renoir. Ed. F r a n c o i s T r u f f a u t . P a r i s : E d i t i o n s Champs L i b r e s , 1971. Bluestone, George. Novels i n t o F i l m . B a l t i m o r e : U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a P r ess, 1974. Chardere, Bernard, ed. "Jean Renoir." Premier P l a n , 22-24, Lyon: S.E.R.D.O.C., 1962. Durgnat, Raymond. Jean Renoir. Berkeley: U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a P r ess, 1974. Greene, Graham. "La Bete humaine." The S p e c t a t o r , 5 May 1939, p. 760. Leprohon, P i e r r e . Jean Renoir. P a r i s : E d i t i o n s Seghers, 1967. Pincus, Edward. Guide to Filmmaking. USA: Signe t Books, New American L i b r a r y , 1969. P o u l l e , F r a n c o i s . Renoir 1938, ou Jean Renoir pour r i e n , enque'te sur un c i n ^ a s t e . P a r i s : E d i t i o n s du C e r f , 1969. Renoir, Jean. La B e H e humaine ( S c e n a r i o ) . P a r i s : Copy Bourse, n.d. R i v e t t e , Jacques, e t F r a n c o i s T r u f f a u t . " E n t r e t i e n avec Jean Renoir." C a h i e r s du Cinema, No. 34 ( a v r i l 1954), pp. 3-12. 117 Sesonske, Alexander. Jean Renoir The French F i l m s , 1924-1939. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P ress, 1980. 118

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