A rare filmmaker for his generation, Jacques Barratier is being honoured at Cannes Classics, which is projecting a restored copy of his very first film, Goha. In it, we discover Omar Sharif in his very early days in front of the camera, playing the role of a naive young man who meets a respected local wise man. He stars opposite Claudia Cardinale.
In 1950, Jacques Baratier made Africa the setting for his first feature film, after having directed a dozen shorts. The filmmaker stated that he wanted to "fathom the Arab world". One of his friends recommended that he read the book Goha the Fool by Albert Adès and Albert Josipovici, published in 1919. The novel tells the story of Goha, a sort of naive and uncultivated village idiot, who meets Taj El Ouloum, a wise man wno is loved and respected by everyone in the local area. Together, they join forces against everything connected with reason.
To explain his decision to adapt the novel for cinema, Baratier said that he was always captivated by uncultivated "natural beings". The project proved difficult to complete for financial reasons. Presented at Cannes in 1957, Goha was Claudia Cardinale's second film, with the actress playing Taj El Ouloum's maid, and the first forOmar Sharif, who appeared under the name Omar Cherif. The idea of using Sharif came to Baratier after seeing a photograph of the 22-year-old actor in a magazine.
The film won the International Film Award at the end of the Festival de Cannes. Its restoration was carried out using the original negative by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, in partnership with Diane Baratier, the filmmaker's daughter. A digital restoration of the sound (originally in mono) was also conducted.
Wednesday 22nd May / Buñuel Theatre / 4.30 p.m.