L' Espoir (1945)





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The was the only film directed by Andre Malraux, the noted French author, critic, and political activist, and it was based on one of his novels, which was in turn inspired by his experiences fighting with the Loyalists against Franco during the Spanish Civil War. A Loyalist aerial squadron, whose enthusiasm and determination easily outstrip the weapons at their disposal, need to take control of a strategically crucial bridge. To achieve this goal, they must wipe out a Republican air field, but their reconnaissance teams have been unable to locate it. The Loyalist air aces meet a peasant who knows where the targeted airstrip can be found, but there's a catch: he's illiterate and can't use a map, so he has to be taken along on bombing raids to show the men their target. Espoir was actually filmed in Spain during the war, incorporating genuine combat footage. The completed takes were then smuggled to France, which was under Nazi occupation at the time. The completed picture was not shown publicly until after France was liberated, where it immediately received triumphant acclaim, earning the nation's highest cinematic honor, the Louis Delluc Award. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
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