For the minor feature-length documentary Place de la Republique (produced 1972, released 1974), Louis Malle and his mini-crew (Jean-Claude Laureux, Etienne Becker and Fernand Mozskowicz) travel to the Place de la Republique in Paris during the autumn of 1972 and utilize a "man on the street" approach, filming various passersby and asking them random questions about their lives, their experiences and their feelings. At one point about 2/3 of the way through the film, a pretty girl who starts off as one of the subjects takes Malle's camera and conducts the interviews herself. Place acts as a kind of companion film to the director's Humain, trop Humain; both are cinema direct works, but only in Humain does the director utilize a schematic editorial structure. Though Suzanne Baron edited Place, here Malle generally resists imposing any kind of an editorial vision and simply films what he comes across, letting the events unfold before him.
Source : allmovie.com
(...) In his next film, Place de la République (1974), Malle takes a more direct approach to the lives of working people, simply training the camera and microphone on anyone who happens to stroll by one short stretch of sidewalk in a working-class neighborhood of Paris. Malle asks them questions about themselves and playfully comments on the camera’s role in the film. The result is a surprisingly penetrating examination of the very real, material factors that affect people’s happiness. Money, race, religion, sex—they’re all there in this elegant experiment, which embodies the curious, compassionate sensibility that informed all of Malle’s films, and especially his documentaries.
Source : criterion.com