“The fact that the film is a failure means nothing. Didn’t God create a failure, too?”–Jonas Mekas on Zazie dans le Metro
DIRECTED BY: Louis Malle
FEATURING: Catherine Demongeot, Philipe Noiret, Vittorio Caprioli, Carla Marlier, Annie Fratellini, Yvonne Clech, Antoine Roblot, Jacques Dufilho, Hubert Deschamps
PLOT: When 10-year-old Zazie’s mother leaves her in the care of her exotic dancer uncle for the weekend , the only thing the sassy little girl wants to see is the Metro, but it’s closed due to a strike. So she sneaks out of her uncle’s apartment and encounters a dirty old man, who is also a policeman, among her many adventures. Her weekend ends when the many friends and adversaries she’s accumulated—including a cobbler, an amorous widow, and a polar bear—find themselves involved in a drunken food fight while the worn-out tyke nods off into dreamland.
- Zazie dans le Metro is based on the hit 1959 comic novel of the same title by Raymond Queneau (a repentant former member of the Surrealist circle). The book relied heavily on wordplay and was widely thought to be unadaptable to film.
- Although the film generated a small cult in France, Zazie was Louis Malle’s first flop after beginning his career with two hits (Elevator to the Gallows and The Lovers).
- Some parents were angry at Malle’s film, believing that the sexuality made it inappropriate for children. Zazie originally received an “X” rating (16 and over) from the British Board of Film Classification.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Surely, it must be Zazie’s impish, gap-toothed smile, which she breaks into whenever she imagines growing up to be a schoolteacher who torments her students by making them eat chalk.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Eiffel Tower polar bear; wet dog in a parrot cage; high-heeled six shoe-ter
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: As Zazie’s transvestite uncle says, “Paris is a dream, Zazie is a reverie, and all this is a reverie within a dream!” If a mad scientist found a way to cross-breed Luis Buñuel and Charlie Chaplin, Zazie dans le Metro is the movie the mutant hybrid would direct.
The Criterion Collection’s “3 Reasons” video for Zazie dans le Metro
COMMENTS: There’s nothing in Louis Malle’s oeuvre that’s remotely like Zazie dans le Metro. There’s nothing else in the rest of the Continue reading 217. ZAZIE DANS LE METRO (1960)