Lacombe, Lucien (1974)
Louis Malle’s film about the German occupation of France is based on his own experiences during that time, when he was a teenager (Malle was born in 1932). It’s a subject he would revisit in another masterful film, “Au Revoir les Enfants” in 1987, which was also nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar.
As written by Malle and Patrick Modiano, the tale centers on a young farm boy (played by Pierre Blaise), who wants to join the Resistance but is rejected by them because of his age. As a result, he joins the Gestapo, which treats him greatly, supplying free liquor and fulfilling other needs.
Among Lucien’s duties is the supervision of Jewish homes. Unfortunately, he then falls in love with a Jewish girl named France (Aurore Clement), whgich results in her father’s deportation. Lucien then sets out to Spain in an effort to save France and her mother from execution.
Under pressure, he finds himself a target of both the Resistance and the Gestapo. After the execution, he is executed as a collaborator.
Malle’s coolly detached perspective on the subject, moral ambiguity, and criticism of the much admired French Resistance, made the picture controversial in France.
Rumor has it, that the reception to “Lacombe Luciine” was a major factor in emigrating to Hollywood in the 1970s and making English-speaking films there until his untimely death, in 1994, at the age of 52.
His American films include “Pretty Baby” and the Oscar-nominated “Atlantic City,” both starring Susan Sarandon, his real-life companion at the time.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Best Foreign Language Film
Oscar Awards: None
The winner was the Italian entry, “Amarcord,” directed by Fellini, in a contest that included “Cats Play” from Hungary, “The Deluge” from Poland, and “The Truce,” from Argentina.
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