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Following the defeat of France by Germany during WWII, two French soldiers are taken to a German farm as forced laborers. In the ensuing years they become deeply involved in the lives of their captors. Written by
G. Gutierrez <email@example.com>
Sandwiched,in Cayatte's filmography between "Le Miroir A Deux Faces" which tackled cosmetic surgery long before it was trendy and "le Glaive et La Balance" a film desperately in need of reassessment,"le Passage du Rhin" occupies a particular place .It was the first time he had broached WW2,and he did it in a very interesting way :ambitious but not always successful film.
On the plus side: Cayatte shows everyday's life in both countries (Germany and occupied France);he was one of the first to tell that French people were not all Resistance fighters (see also "Avant le Deluge" :1952).Two of his characters are collaborators (the newspaper's owner) or they sleep with a Gestapo officer (Jean's mistress).Jean himself is not a true virtuous hero:not only he dishonors and ruins the German girl's life ,but he also wants to marry his French colleague although he knows everything about her racy past in the war years.On the other hand,Aznavour's character ,who might pass for a coward cause he does not want to try to escape from Germany comes back to his new friends when the war is done.
On the minus side: the screenplay is badly written,the scenes lack focus,intensity ,and do not hang well together.Sometimes the absence of transition between the sequences is infuriating .It is sometimes as messy as Cayatte's earlier "le Dossier Noir" (1955).
"Passage du Rhin" is interesting but it lacks a firm screenplay ,like in his great works "Justice est Faite" "Nous Sommes Tous des Assassins" "Avant le Déluge" or "Les Risques du Métier"
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