I saw Helle in a theatre in Andorra, in 1973, and have been searching for it ever since, wondering why it has remained so obscure. The setting is a village in the High Savoy mountains, providing the film a stunning scenic backdrop. By contrast, the idyllic feel of early 1950s French rural life is torn apart by the reappearance of a returned -- and embittered -- French veteran of Viet Nam. Despair, eroticism, and suicide become the themes pursued by the film, whose impact is powerful. For Americans who thought they alone were scarred by Viet Nam, it is historical tonic.
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