France, 1942, under German occupation. Philippe Gerbier, a civil engineer, is a French Resistance commandant. Denounced by a French collaborator, he is interned in a concentration camp. He manages to escape, and rejoins his network in Marseille, where he has the traitor executed. This movie reveals rigorously and austerely what life was like in the French Resistance: the solitude and fear of its members; their relationships with one another; the constant threat of arrest by the Gestapo; the Resistance command structure and the way its orders were carried out. Head writer Joseph Kessel and co-writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville were both veterans of the "Shadow Army".Written by
In the sequence when Mathilde exits the car and silently waves goodbye to Gerbier, in response he rolls his window up completely, yet in the very next shot his window remains open as the car drives away. See more »
Claude Ullmann dit 'Le Masque':
Still thinking about the others?
[referring to the resistance fighters, who, like him, were targets in the German shooting gallery]
No, I was thinking of the officer who was sure I'd run too. Like a scared rabbit...
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She said five minutes, but she'll wait a lifetime.
This is a film about real heroes. Not the flashy Rambo kind, but ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things in a time when France had already surrendered to the Germans. They only numbered a few hundred at most, and they walked in the shadows around France knowing that they would certainly die before it was over. Yet, they moved on and did what they had to without complaint or regret.
You won't see bombs blazing and blood and gore. What you will see is real people who agonize over every death that they are forced to carry out. People who knew that every corner held danger and that they could be betrayed at any time.
These are real heroes and this film portrays them as they were in a somber, intelligent, and dark fashion. The film was made and released in 1969, yet it's awards are in 2006 and 2007, when it was restored and finally presented in this country.
As the films of Jean-Pierre Melville are made available, we are able to share in seeing one of the truly great directors in the world. The pleasure is immeasurable.
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