“ After the war, in 1919, I worked in a movie lab in Vincennes, which was one of the most modern plants in the new industry. There, I had the opportunity to learn something. Every Thursday, the old Charles, as we called the big boss, used to watch French and foreign films that his services scheduled for release in his cinemas, and that had to be approved by the boss, before bulk printing.
To do this, the old Charles locked himself in a screening room all day in company of a young boy whose behaviour was used as test to confirm or cancel the choice made by his department, and to estimate the number of prints to be released across France.
The boy, who was around fifteen, came from a retarded children institution. Thursday was his day off. He was an idiot, old Charles’ idiot. If the idiot was laughing, the old Charles set the highest figure. If the idiot had no fun, the old Charles cancelled the film release. I guarantee it and tell this story to show on what psychological basis the big boss put at risk hundreds of millions, in the industry, and how low he sized up the mind of the audience that brought him billions.
After this example, which is not symbolic, but a true story, one cannot be surprised by the collapse, not of cinema, but of the French. For brainwashing, nothing is better than movie. That was in 1919. And since ... see the news. That is nice. The whole world is sick. ” (Blaise Cendrars in La Banlieue de Paris, Editions Denoël, 1983, ISBN 2207229017)
When reality inspires fiction.