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During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
Francois, a sympathetic factory worker, kills Valentin with a gun. He locked himself in his furnished room and starts remembering how he was led to murder. He met once Francoise, a young fleurist, and they fell in love. But Francoise was gotten round by Valentin, a dog trainer, a machiavellian guy... Written by
This film was released in June 1939, only a year before France's surrender to the Nazis, who subsequently occupied the country. Although this film has no overt political content, according to film scholar Roy Armes, the scene in which the crowd on the street below expresses solidarity with the trapped François - which he rejects, shouting that he only wants to be left alone - reflected the political despair of the period, "a chilling epilogue to a brief period which had opened with the enthusiasms aroused by the Popular Front." [French Cinema, Oxford University Press, 1985, p. 102] In validation of this view, the government of Vichy (unoccupied France) shortly afterwards banned the film as "demoralizing," as if it had been partly responsible for France's defeat. See more »
You're the type women fall in love with . . . I'm the type that interests them.
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Great and unique storytelling makes great and unique movie.
Thing that this movie is best known and appreciated for is its unique way of storytelling. It's one of the very first movies that features a story that gets mostly told with flashbacks and it keeps switching back between past and present. This storytelling technique was later made more famous and popular by Orson Welles with his masterpiece "Citizen Kane".
But of course a movie requires a bit more than just some good storytelling, though it still remains a very important aspect. But this movie also has a great, quite simplistic movie, with still a lot happening in it, like only the French could make. It's a bit of a sweet love-story, that shows the events leading up to a fatal shooting. Some people will call this movie slow but hey, that was just the way movies were back in its days. But it's not like it's slow pace ever makes the movie a boring or dragging one, or at least not to me. It might had been the case if the movie had been a bit longer but with its running time around 90 minutes, it's simply a short movie to watch.
It's also one beautiful looking movie, that features some great cinematography and especially lighting. Shadows play in important part in the movie its visual look. Amazing thing about its cinematography is that the movie actually had 4 different cinematographers attached to it. No idea what the story is behind this but I guess that each used their own specialty for this movie, or some of them simply got fired or stepped up during production. Anyway, whatever was the case, it really didn't hurt the movie its visual look. Marcel Carné movies often were visually a real pleasure to watch and this movie forms no exception on this.
It's also a movie that quite heavily relies on its actors to tell its story and to deliver its great dialog, that got specially written by poet scenarist and songwriter Jacques Prévert. And this movie luckily had some great actors to work with. At the time Jean Gabin really was one of the best French actors. He really did his best work in the '30's and starred in some other classics such as "Pépé le Moko" and "La grande illusion" during the same decade.
Some great and unique storytelling equals a great and unique movie.
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