Sugar Cane Alley

Overview

The teenage life and adventures of young José who lives in a shanty-town on Martinique in the mid-'30s comprises the body of this well-wrought film on how to enjoy what you have. José lives with his grandmother and is well aware of the French colonial presence but they are far away from his world. He gets into mischief, learns valuable lessons on living from an old former slave, drinks too much one time, and even sets fire to one of the run-down shanties. Regardless of his pranks, José never lets up on his ...
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Overview

The teenage life and adventures of young José who lives in a shanty-town on Martinique in the mid-'30s comprises the body of this well-wrought film on how to enjoy what you have. José lives with his grandmother and is well aware of the French colonial presence but they are far away from his world. He gets into mischief, learns valuable lessons on living from an old former slave, drinks too much one time, and even sets fire to one of the run-down shanties. Regardless of his pranks, José never lets up on his studies and in the end, his diligence pays off. Darling Legitmus won the "Best Actress" award at the 1983 Venice Film Festival for her role as the grandmother in this film, and Rue Case Negres won the 1983 Cesar for "Best First Film" for director Euzhan Palcy.
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Special Features

Scene selections
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Sugar Cane Alley is a small gem of a picture. Although it may be a bit too leisurely paced for some, this is a small price for a film that has so much else going for it. Alley is a truly charming film, which is amazing considering its subject matter -- the poverty-level lives of sugar cane workers in 1920 Martinique. Generally, a film about this kind of subject will fall into one of several camps --usually either over-sentimentalizing the situation or becoming socially didactic. Alley manages the feat of being warm without sappy and critical without preaching; director/writer Euzhan Palcy prefers instead to present the facts and, for the most part, leave the judgements up to the viewer. It's a difficult balancing act, and she pulls it off with incredible skill. Part of the secret is that, though the protagonist is a child, she neither focuses exclusively on his story nor overlooks the fact that children are as complicated as any adult. The former allows her to paint a portrait of a community, not just an individual; the latter keeps any sticky-sweetness from seeping in. She is helped in this by the impressive performance of Garry Cadenat as the child and the quietly stunning performance of Darling Legitimus as his grandmother. Cinematographer Dominique Chapuis also helps, grafting sepia and pale purple tones onto the film that add to the general warmth. Alley is well worth seeking out.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/5/2004
  • UPC: 717119421441
  • Original Release: 1983
  • Rating:

  • Source: New Yorker Video
  • Aspect Ratio: Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Language: Français
  • Time: 1:47:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Garry Cadenat José
Darling Legitimus M'Man Tine
Douta Seck Old Medouze
Laurent Saint-Cyr Leopold
Joby Bernabe Monsieur Saint-Louis
Henri Melon The Teacher
Marie-Jo Descas La Mere de Leopold
Technical Credits
Euzhan Palcy Director, Screenwriter
Pierre Befve Sound/Sound Designer
Dominique Chapuis Cinematographer
Isabelle Filleul Costumes/Costume Designer
Thanh At Hoang Production Designer
Geoffrey Larcher Set Decoration/Design
Jean-Luc Ormieres Executive Producer
Yves Osmu Sound/Sound Designer
Marie-France Vassel Makeup
Marie-Josephe Yoyotte Editor
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
2. Opening Credits [1:48]
3. Summer Vacation [5:19]
4. The Broken Bowl [3:29]
5. Collecting Wages [5:56]
6. Mr. Medouze [7:15]
7. Bottle of Rum [5:32]
8. Extra Help [7:00]
9. The Classroom [4:35]
10. A Brilliant Student [6:12]
11. Search for Medouze [8:47]
12. Church [5:16]
13. Leopold's Inheritance [6:39]
14. Scholarship Exam [8:12]
15. Accused of Cheating [9:55]
16. No More Ironing [8:15]
17. Mr. Medouze's Africa [6:34]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Feature
   Scene Selections
   Subtitles
      English Subtitles: On
      English Subtitles: Off
   New Yorker Films
      The Komediant: Play Trailer
      My Father and I: Play Trailer
      Tycoon: Play Trailer
      The Son: Play Trailer
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Serendipity

    I stumbled upon this film by pure chance while browsing the New York Public Library's catalog. It's in French with English subtitles so it may not be very popular among anglophones, however, it is one of the best films I've ever seen...the acting, the story, the costumes all unite to paint a picture of how blacks in the French West Indies lived after slavery and how they continued to be disenfranchised by the system. The hero of the story is a teen-aged boy who inherits wisdom from a politically conscious hermit. The boy's knowledge opens doors for him that normally would remain closed to someone from his class. Powerful. Provocative. See it!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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