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In a village in the Southwest of France, 1962. Maite and Francois are 18 years old. They are friends, not lovers. In Francois's classroom, there are Serge, whose brother has just married to try to escape from the war in Algeria, and Henri, a pied-noir (Algerian-born Frenchman). Francois and Serge will have a homosexual relationship, but Serge wants to marry his brother's wife...Written by
There are many references in the movie to "The O.A.S.," in conversation, and overheard on radio and television newscasts. OAS - or Organisation armée secrète, literally "Organization of the Secret Army" or "Secret Armed Organization," was a French nationalist terrorist organization during the Algerian War (1954-62), which ended in independence for Algeria in July 1962, which was not only the time setting for this movie, but the Algerian War was also the background conflict that propelled much of the plot of this film. Using armed struggle in an attempt to prevent Algeria's independence, OAS's motto was "Algeria is French and will remain so" (L'Algérie est française et le restera). See more »
One of the songs featured at the party which Maïté and François go to after the movie is "Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys, which was recorded and released in the fall of 1965, a full three years after the 1962 time setting for this movie. See more »
Boy loves boy, but loses to girl in 1960's Provence
Gael Morel play the 18 year old Francois, a French schoolboy at a boarding school in Provence. The time is 1962, and France is at the height of the Algerian crisis. Just like America in 1968, all schoolboys are fearful of being sent to fight an unpopular overseas war as soon as they are of draft age.
Francois is gay, and falls in love with fellow student Serge, played by Stephane Rideau. Serge initially reciprocates his affection, leading Francois to assume that he is also gay.
But Serge falls for their teacher's daughter, Maite, who is also 18 years old, and chooses her over his boyfriend. Francois is heartbroken.
The other star of the movie is the soundtrack by Chubby Checker, with all of his '60's hits.
And the beautiful countryside of Provence also stars. Like most French movies, the pace is slow with long periods of inaction but beautifully photographed scenery. There are also some visually striking scenes of the boys cavorting in the river. This is different to American tastes, but nice in its own way.
The movie is good at handling complex feelings. The boys are confused as to their developing sexuality. The war in North Africa looms over their impending manhood. Friendships and allegiances change overnight. Death comes home for them as Serge's brother is killed in Algeria. Serge has to choose between a then difficult gay existence and a straight life with Maite running the family farm.
A similar movie is American Graffiti, which also deals with teenagers coming of age. But certainly not to the same depth, and without many of the complex issues of the Wild Reeds.
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