Only one review,by a true connoisseur of French cinema,Mr Guenot. He panned it;I deeply respect this reliable writer,but I tend to disagree.
First of all,this is the third French movie in REAL TIME (no,the new wave did not invent the technique with "Cleo De Cinq A Sept" (1962)!) after Leonide Moguy's "Le Deserteur " aka "Je T'Attendrai "(1939,thus before "rope" (1948) and the set up (1949));also in real time,Alex Joffé's "Les Fanatiques" (1957)
WW2 is coming to an end ;on the seaside,resistant fighters are captured and imprisoned in a basement ;within an hour ,all of them will be shot .An hour of fear ,of impossible dreams ,of false hopes .Based on a Bernanos play ,it sometimes recall ,by the subject of sacrifice (a sacrifice of an average human being is not an average one),"Dialogue Des Carmélites ",in which nuns ,during the French Revolution,were guillotined ,because they would have betrayed their faith if they had accepted the new rules).
Robert Hossein doesn't overplay:his part demands that he should show his fear of an impending death;he's the only one who understands German ,which might be a blessing and a curse .
Marina Vlady (at the time,Hossein's real life wife) has the best line;when the prisoners are asked if there is a Jew among them, she simply answers "If there were one,we all would be Jews too " .
The final scenes were probably influenced by Stanley Kubrik's "paths of glory" and may seem a bit turgid,but they retain a certain greatness ; Jean Valère's first movie, though praised when it was released ,and a prize-winner at that,is ignored by the Dictionnaire Des Films today .His other movies such "LA Femme Ecarlate " or " Mont-Dragon" are worthless.
Not a masterpiece but 77 min which deserve your undivided attention.
like this ? try these .....
"Jéricho" (by the unfairly overlooked Henri Calef,1945) "LE Repas Des Fauves "(Christian-Jaque 1964)
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