The Orient is a vindictive mistress

by Nandia Foteini Vlachou

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Line Noro as Inès, in Julien Duvivier's Pépé le Moko (1937)

Line Noro as Inès, in Julien Duvivier’s Pépé le Moko (1937)

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I recently saw Pépé le Moko. I admit, a main reason was a longstanding fascination with its quintessentially French, male protagonist. But I got so much more than Jean Gabin out of it. The film occupies a unique position in a genre crossroads: gangster film, noir, drama (of the poetic realist tradition), love story, etc., while at the same time condensing the discourses on orientalism and French colonialism like no film before or after, I would dare say. I am hoping to return to the subject with a more detailed text in the future. For the moment, I leave you with a song by Frehel, in a key scene of the movie:

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