Ameur-Zaïmeche takes an unexpected turn into period-film territory in his latest work, a film in praise of banditry. Louis Mandrin was a notorious mid-18th century France smuggler who became a folk hero for setting up thieves’ markets where stolen goods were sold without the extravagant taxes levied by the royalty. Smugglers’ Songs is a fictionalized account of his confederates’ activities after his 1755 execution. They attempt to carry out their utopian vision of an alternative society based on a barter economy, collective living and a libertine spirit, with song and poetry flowing freely. Although the film is an ensemble piece, Jacques Nolot steals the show as a noble sympathetic to Mandrin’s men, who helps them publish a collection of ballads written or inspired by the brigand.
Directed by Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche. With Jacques Nolot, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, Christian Milia-Darmezin
France 2011, 35mm, color, 97 min. French with English subtitles