This at once modest and ambitious effort has something miraculous about it, its very existence being an achievement in itself. Just imagine: daring to trace half a century of history when you are a group of amateurs and when you have no more than a ten thousand euro budget at your disposal.It takes a heck of a long time (two years actually), plenty of elbow grease and of unrelenting passion to manage to complete the filming and editing of this filmed object. At any rate, it did not discourage a whole gang of volunteers who strived bravely under Jean- Marie Lignot's guidance. The product of their efforts is this unexpected finished product aiming to evoke the history of their small hometown, Fresnes-en-Woëvre, from the turn of the twentieth century to the end of World War II, no less! Naturally, with such a limited budget, the director could not envisage a War and Peace-like saga. That is why he - quite rightly - opted for a series of brief sequences following chronology, from 1900 to 1945. The result is quite uneven especially when it comes to acting (nothing surprising considering no performer is professional). Equally uneven are the tableaux vivants that form the backbone of the film, at times anecdotal (the peasants in the field), or outright boring (the inauguration of the school) but sometimes interesting, not to say moving (soldier Louis Pergaud, the author of "War of the Buttons", writing a letter to his fiancée in Fresnes just before being killed there, the 1914 and the 1940 exoduses...) Anyway, whatever its weaknesses, "Si Fresnes métait conté" does achieve its aim: in chronicling both the insignificant trivia and the great tragedies which took place there, Lignot and his team succeed in giving you a notion of the historicity of a small north eastern town unknown by most. You did not know Fresnes before ? Never mind, with this little film you will have evidence that places of the kind are not dead losses : history is made everywhere and even little people are part of it.
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