Oslo, April 19th 1945, as the Third Reich is living its last days, a group of Nazis and sympathizers (a Wehrmacht general; an SS commander and his "assistant"; an Italian industrialist and his wife who is also the general's lover; a French collaborator) board a submarine that will take them to South America, where they hope to find refuge. While they sail in the Bay of Biscay, off the shores of the liberated French port of Royan, they manage to kidnap a French doctor to have him look after a wounded passenger. Dr Gilbert will be forced to share the restricted space of the submarine with the fugitives. The atmosphere soon becomes unbreathable...Written by
Le docteur Guilbert:
My harmonica. Oh! I was happy to find it again. It reminded me of so many things. Things from before. My youth. Going camping. Helen. Peacetime.
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A submarine bursting at the seams
Les maudits is directed by René Clément who also co-writes with Victor Alexandrov, Henri Jeanson, Jacques Rémy and Jacques Companéez. It stars Marcel Dalio, Henri Vidal, Florence Marly, Fosco Giachetti, Paul Bernard, Jo Dest, Michel Auclair and Anne Campion.
It's the last days of World War II and a submarine full of Nazi's and fellow collaborators head off from Oslo bound for South America. Hoping to evade capture by the Allies, their plans are stalled when a depth- charge attack injures one of the lady passengers causing them to stop off in France to kidnap a doctor. Once on board the doctor realises the gravity of his situation and uses his medical knowledge to spread slow- burn fret throughout the submarine; just as news of the armistice breaks
A lesson in claustrophobic suspense and slow-burn psychological edginess, Les maudits riff's on the rats leaving a sinking ship with considerable success. It's a hot-bed of unsavoury characters, where political sin hangs heavy in the scratchy black and white atmosphere. Clément inserts the tension deftly whilst also garnering rich performances from the multilingual ensemble of actors. It all builds to a quite terrific ending that closes down the picture on suitably intelligent note.
It's a hard film to pin down but if you get the chance don't hesitate to view it. 8/10
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