Deemed a “masterpiece” by critic David Thomson, Life and Nothing But is one of director Bertrand Tavernier’s (Let Joy Reign Supreme, ’Round Midnight) most ambitious films. With this gorgeously photographed anti-war epic, Tavernier examines the emotional hurdles that separate rich from poor, men from women, history from truth and regret from hope.
A year after WW I has ended, cynical Major Dellaplane (Philippe Noiret – Cinema Paradiso, Il postino) has the difficult task of identifying and interring thousands of fallen French soldiers anonymously languishing in field hospitals and littering the vast Verdun battlefield. Dellaplane has also become reluctant shepherd to an ad hoc society grown around the legions of widowed wives and mothers combing the French countryside for word of their loved ones. When a buried hospital train yields a fresh source of possibly recognizable bodies, Irene, a haughty Parisian aristocrat and Alice, a hopeful young schoolteacher, form an unlikely alliance with the Major. As the train’s surprising cargo is revealed, the three searchers must choose between life in a post-war world stripped of illusions or the seductive self-imprisonment of bitterness and mourning for days, lives and loves gone by.
Tavernier regular Noiret won a French César for his performance opposite the “ravishingly gifted actress” (The Washington Post) Sabine Azéma as Irène. In courageously and gracefully celebrating inexhaustible human resilience and burgeoning romance amidst unspeakably appalling loss, Life and Nothing But “conveys both the fragile and the indestructible” (The New York Times). –Kino
One of France’s premiere directors, screenwriters, and producers, Bertrand Tavernier is renowned for making dramas encompassing themes as diverse as familial relationships, World War I, and contemporary social ills. Regardless of the subjects they explore, Tavernier lends his films great introspection and humanity, something that has established him as one of the French cinema’s more progressive and compassionate figures.
Born in Lyon on April 25, 1941, Tavernier grew up with a love of film and wanted to be a director from the age of 13. He was particularly influenced by such American directors as Joseph Losey, John Ford, Samuel Fuller, and William Wellman, and – during a spell at the Sorbonne, where he studied law – he became involved in the film industry as an assistant director for Jean-Pierre Melville. Tavernier became then a film critic and worked for prestigious publications as Positif and Cahiers du Cinema. His first feature film, L’Horloger de St. Paul (1974), received international… read more