Faces of Children

Visages d'enfants

Jacques Feyder, France, Switzerland, 1923


Jean and Pierrette’s mother is dead. Their father has since remarried to a widow, who has a daughter, Arlette. The brother and sister refuse to accept that their father has remarried and refuse to include Arlette, who they see as an intruder and rival, in their games and keep her at arm’s length. They create a very precise playing space, doubly isolated, defined by two concentric circles. This space, a little island on the river where they create a wee shelter, functions like an alternative house, which is specifically theirs, separated from the family home. They build a stone circle to use as a hearth, where they can cook and have a fire.
In this scene Arlette tries to interfere with their game, and they reject her violently, as she has broken in to this private space for two, which should never be profaned by a third person’s presence. Arlette makes the most of a moment when they’re not there, finding bits of wood for fuel, attacking their playing space, scattering their potatoes and putting out their fire. 

Echoes of this scene, in another form can be found in the clip from Récréations. (Claire Simon)