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A very straightforward adaptation it seems like but its simplicity is what makes it so chilling, considering the majority of the film takes place with silences or simple monologues in a room between three people, Melville leaves it to the space and atmosphere to portray its despair.
Melville's first but one of his more cleanly crafted films that, as usual, is no match for Army of Shadows, but still among the most insightful into the shrouded humanity of German soldiers, and a painful reminder of the Holocaust.
And so Jean-Pierre Melville's career began with this very impressive feature debut. While not quite the same kind of film from him as I'm used to (keep in mind the only other Melville films I've seen are Le Deuxième Souffle and Le Samouraï), it delivers every bit of quiet tension and restrained filmmaking I've come to love from this director. The vast majority of the film is either narration directly out of the book on which the film was adapted, or Howard Vernon delivering hauntingly beautiful monologues. Vernon's performance is flawless and never fails to draw you in. All of this great stuff aside,Le Silence de la Mer has some room to grow. Biggest issue being that it's basically a stage play. The medium is hardly utilized and it makes for a semi-dull viewing. This isn't the fault of Melville or anybody else, that's just what the source material calls for. As perfectly executed as Vernon's monologues were, I just can't help but feel that the story could have had so much more to offer. But this, again, is the fault of the author of the book, not Melville. All in all, Le Silence de la Mer is a very good start to Melville's career and definitely one not to let pass you by.
First film written and directed by influential film maker Jean Pierre Melville which centers on three people. Based on an actual book set in WWII involving a high ranking German officer( Howard Vernon) issued to live with an elderly uncle( Jean-Marie Robain) as he narrates the entire experience as him and his niece (Nicole Stéphane) just when France was being occupied. The high ranking German officer, at first has some misconceptions about the Third Reich's intentions of why they reside in France as viewers already know throughout that his ideals is not the case at all.
Poetic French masterpiece.
A naive and idealistic Nazi officer (Howard Vernon) is quartered in the home of an elderly Frenchman (Jean-Marie Robain) and his niece (Nicole Stephane) during the German occupation of France. The pair's only possible defiance in the wake of their unwelcome guest is cold, contemptuous silence. Le SIlence De La Mer was faithfully adapted from a popular novel clandestinely published under the nose of Vichy France. Its director, who was involved in the French Resistance, began shooting the movie a mere two years after World War II ended; the emotions about the Nazi occupation were still very raw and this is felt in every frame of the film. Despite (or because) of all this, Jean Pierre Melville's feature debut is a powerful and intense film in many ways. However, thanks in no small part to the spot-on cinematography and some great acting, Le Silence De La Mer is also understated and deeply humanizing in many of its other aspects.
Unusually monologue-heavy to great effect, since it turns out to be extremely beneficial character development in a tense environment.
This was my first time watching this debut film from the great director Jean-Pierre Melville, and I thoroughly enjoyed. Melville directed 2 of my all-time favourite films, "Le Samourai" and "Bob Le Flambeur". The story is about the French resistance during WWII, as a German officer go to live with a older French man and his niece during the occupation, they show passive resistance to him by refusing to speak to him. He spends each evening telling them stories, and recounting his affection for France. The characters in this story are not purely good or evil, but layered which makes for a fascinating watch. Highly recommended!
Heartbreaking WW2 film, following a german officer whilie living at two french sivilians house. An empty german uniform lives alongside a intellectual and respectful man. The intense verbal silence vs the gentle visonary stories. The sparkling fire and the cold hands. The french writers and the german componists. I bid you goodnight.
Melville's first film is very good indeed. Drawn from a popular short story circulated by the French Resistance during WWII, it depicts a German officer taking forced lodging with an elderly French man and his niece. The German is full of romantic notions of a merger of French poetry and literature with German classical music, a marriage of two cultures, and although the man and his niece refuse to speak to him or even acknowledge his presence, he delivers them nightly monologues that make him a sympathetic character. Unfortunately, the reality of the Nazis' aims is eventually made clear and the German is seriously disillusioned. Melville's attention to small details (and sounds) is already apparent and he decorates the film with expressionistic touches (point of view shots, close-ups of eyes, distant views of Chartres, etc).