In occupied France, German-run Continental Films calls the shots in the movie business. Assistant director and Resistance activist Jean Devaivre works for Continental, where he can get "in ... See full summary »
In occupied France, German-run Continental Films calls the shots in the movie business. Assistant director and Resistance activist Jean Devaivre works for Continental, where he can get "in between the wolf's teeth and avoid being chewed up". Fast-living screenwriter Jean Aurenche uses every possible argument to avoid working for the enemy. For both, wartime is a battle for survival. Written by
I know I must resist the temptation to comment other reviews, so I'll let the title of mine shows what lead me to react. This Tavernier's opus is one of his most achieved work. The French filmmaker (and historian and archivist of cinema) is doing a revision, for sure, and breaking some codes of the reigning (and ageing) French political correctness ; besides, it doesn't make his movie a rehabilitation of the "régime de Vichy", neither Tavernier a glorifyer of French fascism. The film is simply pointing some facts that have been seldom told about filmmaking during the German occupation of France (from June 1940 to summer 1944). Tavernier talks about passion for filmmaking and reluctance to work under German or fascist rules, about need to stay a professionnal and despair to be endangered by a war still going on and Gestapo of Milice sending their murderers even in the studios. Furthermore, Tavernier talks about the role and place of the Communist party (joining French resistance after June 41...), a place which is rarely evoked in its most unpleasant aspects, usually. Let's remember that Clouzot's "le Corbeau" was tagged a collaborationnist film, and subsequantly his author blacklisted for a year, only because HG Clouzot didn't support the Communist party linked "Comité d'épuration" in the end of 1944. This is also of what "laissez-passer" is dealling with. Of a very classic form, excellently acted, this movie has the considerable merit of revisiting a period which is remembered as well as one of the darkest in French political and social history, and paradoxically as one of the most brilliant in French cinema history. A last word on Tavernier's conceptions of social duties for an intellectual : most of his works are giving the point of view of people having to deal with real life and what they understand as their duty ; those people are shown in fictions (the policeman in "L 627", the best ever made movie on police work ; the teacher in "une semaine de vacances") or documentaries ("la guerre sans nom"). Tavernier give them a right to free speach which makes his movies sort of manifestos in defense of the Republic and democracy. For this too, he'll be remembered, as he'll be honoured for his positions (by political means or by filmmaking, as "double peine") to support immigrant workers.
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