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
Triumph of the Human Spirit: Artists in a Time of War
'Laissez-passer' (Safe Conduct) is an epic film not of the giant battlefield scenes type, but of the inner humanity placed in jeopardy during war times. Director Bernard Tavernier has been making important films since the 1960s and here directs a story by Jean Cosmos and Jean-Devaivre that explores the survival of writers and actors and filmmakers during the German occupation of Paris in World War II. The result is an intensely rich examination of that period of time when the French Resistance successfully and bravely struggled against the Nazi invaders: yet another result is a film that is so long that it calls for an entire evening's concentration on a story that begs to be edited.
Based on a true story of screenwriter Jean Aurenche (Denis Podalydès), firm in his conviction that he would never write in support of the Nazi regime, and director Jean Devaivre (Jacques Gamblin) who opted for complying on the surface with a film production company headed by the German occupiers while retaining his firm stance as part of the French Resistance, the story involves a large cast who portray actors, production people, friends, victims, Germans, etc and the plot is at times so convoluted that you may need to pause and backup to make sure you have not lost any important information.
The actors are outstanding and the complete production crew of this film has created a tense, atmospheric, intelligent tale that makes the audience respect even more the incredible bravery of the French Resistance movement. This is brilliant film-making - it just goes on a bit too long at 2 hours and 45 minutes! Grady Harp, September 05
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