A young French soldier in World War I is overcome with guilt whenever he kills a German soldier who, like himself, is a musically gifted conscript, each having attended the same musical conservatory in France.
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we usually think of the lubitsch touch as a very specific kind of elliptical narration - a way to speak of that which could not be shown in even pre-code hollywood film (i.e. sex). here lubitsch turns his 'touch' to what can not be said - the weight of grief, loss of lives and loss of culture, the seeds of what was just starting to bloom in germany. empty space, dead time, ellipsis, proto-bressonian sound choices...
In the middle of his prolific run of musicals and comedies, Lubitsch took time out for a deadly serious movie about the wounds of WWI. At the time, it was considered a failure, and I'm not sure the years have been any kinder to the way it fumbles through melodrama and angst. Worthwhile chiefly to see the master of one genre attempt another, with very openhearted messages for 1932 and a shot or two worthy of Murnau.
Un des seuls mélodrames d'Ernst Lubitsch prônant fortement la réconciliation franco-allemande, d'une parfaite densité émotionnelle quant à la maîtrise et l'exploitation du sujet. A voir ou à revoir absolument... www.cinefiches.com