Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cinéma Français: Lacombe, Lucien

Lacombe, Lucien is a compelling character study based on the true story of a French boy who joins the Gestapo in France’s south-west during the death throes of the war, immediately after being rejected from the local resistance.

Directed by renowned French filmmaker Louis Malle and released in 1974, the film abounds with fascinating contradictions: Lucien is as attracted to the resistance as he is to the Gestapo, the Gestapo’s tailor is a Jew, Lucien falls in love with tailor’s daughter.

Ultimately Lacombe, Lucien reveals the complexity, contraditions and ambiguity of both the Nazi and resistance movements of France, and in this regard functions as an ideal companion to Le Chagrin et La Pitié, a relationship that critic Pauline Kael explores in this thoughtful essay.

Although generally quite unsettling, in no small part thanks to Lucien’s almost total lack of emotion, Lacombe, Lucien is a superbly crafted and visually stunning masterpiece worth every moment of viewing. Recommended!

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