A dying French naval frigate captain tries to make a last rendezvous in the winter storm-tossed seas off the Grand Banks, with "le crab tambour," a French war hero he had betrayed twenty ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Captain
...
Le médecin, Pierre
...
Aurore (as Aurore Clement)
Odile Versois ...
Madame
Pierre Rousseau
Jacques Dufilho ...
Chef mécanicien
...
Lt. Willsdorff, 'le Crabe-Tambour'
Yann Brannelec
Jean Champion
Nguyen Long Cuong
François Dyrek ...
(as Francois Dyrex)
Jean Hennau
Yves Morgan-Jones
Bernard La Jarrige ...
Le recteur
François Landolf ...
(as Francois Landolt)
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Storyline

A dying French naval frigate captain tries to make a last rendezvous in the winter storm-tossed seas off the Grand Banks, with "le crab tambour," a French war hero he had betrayed twenty years earlier. "Le crab tambour" the drummer crab" was a boyhood nickname for the handsome young Alsatian whom the film depicts proving his courage, first in the war in French Indochina, and then again in the "Generals' Revolt" in Algeria. Courtmartialed because friends like the French naval captain were afraid to risk their own careers by testifying for him, the exiled "crab tambour" and his trawler, The Shamrock, is now a legend among the Grand Banks fishermen. Written by Thomas Lipscomb <tom@infosafe.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | War

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 November 1977 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Drummer-Crab  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One thing that may be missed by viewers of this beautiful movie is that the French Navy frigate Jauréguiberry is not crossing the North Atlantic waters for an endurance mission (although much endurance is needed). She is actually fulfilling a mission of "Surveillance des pêches" (i.e. Support to the French fishing vessels) in the "Terre Neuve" (Newfoundland) and "Saint-Pierre et Miquelon" waters, a mission that the French Navy has carried on for centuries and still does today. Fishing rights for French vessels in these waters date from before the reign of king Louis XIV, and are among the last remaining rights from the French colonial venture in Canada. It has always been accepted as a truth that the "Terre Neuvas" (fishermen trained to work in these waters) were the best, the toughest recruits for the Navy. The film is about decolonization, of course, but its main theme is duty - carrying on whatever may and however unpleasant it may be. Unglamorous assistance to the "Terre Neuvas" fits in well with this theme. Another trivia : Jean Rochefort is as natural as can be playing the part of captain of the frigate Jaureguiberry : he may have acquired such an ease from watching his brother Pierre, a Naval officer who ended his career as an Admiral. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A philosophical journey through North Atlantic and french military history
26 January 2001 | by (Quito) – See all my reviews

I am working a librarian in the french equivalent of the British Council, in Quito, Ecuador, South America. A long long time ago, when I was still living in France, a friend of mine lend me a copy of Shoendoerffer's novel, "Le crabe tambour". I never forgot this small pocket book, which surprisingly enough was not published anymore.

A few years later, working in the Alliance Francaise of Quito, I found out an old video copy of the movie. Its quality was definitely not top notch, for it had been taped from the french TV in the 80's. The sound was quite bad, making it uneasy to catch the dialogues.

Even though, I loved it. Definitely. A few months later, the video was removed from the library, because it was not an original. Of course, I took this one with me and brought it home.

Why is this film so magical?

Because it blends in a superb way the drama of history (more precisely, the bitter decolonisation years of the french empire in Indochina / Vietnam and Algeria), its heart-braking influence on the soldiers who fought these lost wars, philosophical reflections about the meaning of man's liberty to choose his own way (and the subsequent price to pay), beauty of the sea and the men who sail her, friendship, death.

As Kubrick's 2001, "Le crabe tambour" does not reveal everything at first seeing. Like a marvellous book, it is to be seen again, and again. Again for the beautiful acting of Rochefort, Rich, Dufilho and Perrin. Again for the harshness of the dialogues, and the importance of silence. Again for the magnificent photography of boats struggling in the cold and furious North Atlantic. Again for this unique and moving confrontation between history and men.

Just like in Kubrick's 2001, there is not much of action to be seen. Despite the different places it takes us through (Indochina, Algeria, France and sea), the film is much more like a long and uninterrupted dialogue. Two officers on a small boat, encountering each other on the common ground of their friendship for a third one, the absent one, the "crabe-tambour". Two old and battered military men, chasing a ghost, each one for his own intimate and imperious reasons.

So will we, one day, ask ourselves the same frightening question : "What have I done with my talent?".

For me, this is definitely worth a 10 out of 10. But I strongly recommend reading the book first, if can be.


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