Stanley Kubrik's "paths of glory" depicted one of the darkest pages of French history:it deeply moved many people around the world and gained an universal meaning.
"Sortez des rangs" is some kind of aftermath,on a minor mode .Here the director is no match for Kubrik ,but he made a little movie which deserves to be known.Few people saw it and it was overlooked when it was released.
A woman ,whose husband refused to get back on the offensive -for the eleventh time!- and then was shot as an example ,is harassed by her "patriot" neighbors and the Police:she winds up in an insane asylum. Her child is sent to a very harsh orphanage .In order to kill the general des Gringues -whose nickname is "le boucher des Hurlus" (Hurlus Butcher) who's responsible for his father death,he escapes with three mates.Then begins a quixotic odyssey,across a country torn by a war that left nothing but piles of skulls and bones -as a soldier ironically remarks :all these bones are mixed,friends and enemies,French and German ,all we can do with that is a tower of bones-,ravaged by Spanish flu,where a captain with a desk job-I was told what happened!- harangues the soldiers who look on with wry amusement ,where a madam -Danièle Delorme!- and her hookers who seems to come from a Maupassant short story (Not a butcher,Gringues,Delorme says,but a victor!) ,go from camp to camp (in both senses of the term).
Children do not accept the adults world ,they do not buy the official claptrap -we fought for you,so that this war would be the last one-,they are psychic sons of Jean Vigo and Luigi Comencini.
Directing is conventional,and the screenplay does not always sustain interest;but there are flashes of melodrama Douglas Sirk would not deny:the watch ,which represents beating hearts ,is a simple but moving metaphor.The last picture will make you cry.
In 1992 ,Bertrand Tavernier made his "after the war" work "la vie et rien d'autre"."Sortez des rangs " (=get out of the ranks)deals with the same subject,but seen through children's eyes.Their naiveté is touching,climaxing when they think they actually killed their hatred general. The children are always right.They are.
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