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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Early Clement, entertaining but not brilliant
"Les maudits" (the damned) is a film from the early years of René Clement. It is entertaining, but it misses the refinement of "Jeux interdit" (1952, René Clement).
In "Der untergang" (2004, Oliver Hirschbiegel) a blinded Adolf Hitler stays in his Berlin bunker, walking straight into his defeat. Many of his advisers were more realistic about the chances of the Nazis in World War II and sought a safe harbour, often in South America. Novels such as "The Odessa file (1972, Frederick Forsyth, adapted by Ronald Neame in 1974) and "The boys from Brazil" (1976, Ira Levin, adapted by Franklin Schaffner in 1978) tell us about the activities of these ex Nazi's.
"Les maudits" is the missing link between these stories and World War II films. It tells us about the flight of some high ranking National Socialists in a submarine. The film misses however the tension of a submarine film like "Das Boot" (1981, Wolfgang Petersen) or the perversion and decadence of his namesake "The damned" (1969, Luchino Visconti). In the film the submarine with the Germans is a sort of Noah's ark, but the inhabitants are not selected by God but by the devil.
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