A home invasion movie of the strangest kind, where a Nazi occupier and his defiantly stoic "hosts" reach a dark, complex understanding. It has minimal ingredients, so credit to Melville for the formal tinkering he manages. Its chief flaw is academicism—this is emotion as theory, more satisfying as experiment than drama. But it lingers as an early sign of the repressed, precise moral parables that fascinated him.
I’ve seen a probably very high number of films about power dynamics; go figure it's the one with the nazi that takes the subtle, understated approach. Visually striking composition/cinematography that in every case was magnificent, even as I felt frustrated that it wasn't doing justice to all the rich, disturbing nuance of the story.* I could imagine it being brutal as a play (or Fassbinder film!) Great debut! 3.75
The best Melville film I have seen so far, and so much more emotional than his later, more famous films. A German officer (looking like Klaus Kinski) is an unwelcome intruder in the house of a man (looking like the young Jean-Pierre Leaud as an old man with moustache) and his niece, who protest with silence. The German starts to doubt the Nazi project. DCP
una película sencillamente maravillosa; cruda, si. Pero el cuento original -que Melville respetó parrafo por parrafo- es un ejemplo de conciencia política: Vercours, su autor, lo escribió siendo miembro activo de la resistencia francesa antinazi, y sin embargo despega con pristina claridad lo alemán de lo nazi; visionario de la Europa que vendrá después del sacrificio feroz , resuma respeto por la cultura alemana.
An unusual and highly atmospheric chamber piece where formal simplicity enables genuine nuance in the subtle character interaction. Nevertheless it's very specifically of its time politically and as the action proceeds, the officer's monologues feel increasingly as if they belong to the writer rather than the character - we lose the more interesting ambiguity that characterises the early part of the film.
A tremendously absorbing debut from Melville. Despite being heavily reliant on monologues & a solo location, there's a lofty gravitas to proceedings. Howard Vernon, bathed in an irresistible glow, is spellbinding as the deluded German officer musing on life, culture & France to his silent hosts. The mysterious tale unravels through Melville's energetic camera movements that flicker between flames & moon-like stares.
Set in France, 1941, the film is a detailed analysis of the occupant - a German officer, portrayed as complex, conflicted, humane and his relation with a French family, worth considering that it was filmed in 1949, when the memories were still fresh and wounds open. I was surprised by the interesting and original opening. Impressive cinematography, strong performances.
Interesting mix of narration and silent cinema style acting. A film where a glance or a knowing look says everything. Everything is expertly framed and it is an interesting historical document on French feeling towards German occupation so soon after the war. Did Tarrantino "borrow" the Nazi captain for Inglorious Basterds?
Isn't it awful when a stranger turns up to live in your house uninvited and to top it all off you find out that they are a Nazi? Isn't it awful that they keep talking to you and you stay silent in the hope that they'll get the hint and leave? Isn't it funny how things can turn out?