Paul Meyer’s Déjà s’envole la fleur maigre

Paul Meyer, Déjà s’envole la fleur maigre (From the Branches Drops the Withered Blossom), 1960, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 83 minutes.

THE ANNALS OF NEOREALISM must now account for an emergent classic, Paul Meyer’s Déjà s’envole la fleur maigre (From the Branches Drops the Withered Blossom, 1960), shown only sporadically during the more than half-century since it was made, often miscategorized as a documentary, and finally surviving as a single worn 35-mm print and a damaged camera negative, from which the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique has managed to produce a revelatory restoration. Few discoveries rewrite film history, but From the Branches should at the very least force an auspicious entry into the inventory of unheralded masterpieces and compel us to consider what its director might have accomplished had the movie achieved the canonical status it so urgently deserves.

The appalling saga of the film’s production makes its reappearance all the more miraculous. Meyer was commissioned by the Belgian Ministry of

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