One of the greatest and least-known directors of all time, Raymond Bernard helped shape French cinema, at the dawn of the sound era, into a truly formidable industry. Typical of films from this period, Bernard’s dazzling dramas painted intimate melodrama on epic-scale canvases. These two masterpieces—the wrenching World War I tragedy Wooden Crosses and a mammoth, nearly five-hour Les misérables, widely considered the greatest film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel—exemplify the formal and narrative brilliance of an unjustly overshadowed cinematic trailblazer.
Hailed by the New York Times on its Paris release as “one of the great films in motion picture history,” Raymond Bernard’s Wooden Crosses, France’s answer to All Quiet on the Western Front, still stuns with its depiction of the travails of one French regiment during World War I.
Hailed by film critics around the world as the greatest screen adapation of Victor Hugo’s mammoth nineteenth-century novel, Raymond Bernard’s dazzling, nearly five-hour Les misérables is a breathtaking tour de force, unfolding with the depth and detail of its source.