French Gestures (Gestes)Directed by Alfred Guzzetti.
US, 1974, 16mm, black & white, 27 min.
Print source: HFA
Inspiring Laurence Wylie, Harvard’s renowned scholar of France, sought to create his book Beaux Gestes: A Guide to French Body Talk, Guzzetti’s resulting documentation of dozens of gestures and their meanings finds the filmmaker’s fascination with language at its most explicit application. Surprisingly engrossing, this straightforward educational film is a fascinating sidelight on Guzzetti’s interest in fusing language and image.
Straightforwardly and sympathetically, Guzzetti films children at seemingly unsupervised and unselfconscious play, with parents very rarely in evidence, and usually only as offscreen voices, at that. We watch as a small group of children (Guzzetti’s own and those of friends) interact, in various times, places and combinations, revealing in the process their developing mastery of language, technology and their imaginations. This merging of the impulses behind documentary, ethnography and home movies comes to life through Guzzetti’s patient, precise aim of the camera.