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Although it's never mentioned,the story seems to take place in Russian before the 1917 revolution.The murdered government man could be some kind of Stolypine (although Rasputin was probably responsible for it whereas the killer is a revolutionary man.
Razumov (Fresnay) is a happy student who hides his head in the sand.Whereas his mates are concerned by politics and talking about a revolution,he does not seem to notice that the tables are beginning to turn .Not a bad guy,but a guy who has big ambitions and who does not want them to be ruined by activism.
One day,an assassin (Barrault) (see above) comes knocking to his door knowing that he is loyal.But a loyal man does not feel like giving shelter to a terrorist with the police hot on his heels.But ,without being aware of it,he is already caught up in the system.All that he does backfires against him.
In Switzerland (where else?) he is welcomed as a hero;his pal was sentenced to death and shot .Razumov did not want such a thing but he was incapable of taking sides and acquiring an attitude about the situation.The best scene shows a giant poster of the dead student ,looking Razumov in his eyes :this presence is so intense it leaves the audience ill at ease .The hero,already smitten with remorse cannot stand his "glory" and the admiration the others feel for him anymore.
Generally dismissed as badly directed ,"Sous les Yeux d'Occident" ,in spite of his obvious flaws (too many plot holes) ,is an intriguing work which reminds me more of Jorge Luis Borges than of Joseph Conrad. who wrote the novel.
Like this?try this :
"La strategia del ragno" Bernardo Bertolucci. (1970)
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