In a sealed world of repressed feelings, silence and indifference become the only weapon of resistance.
27 November, 19.00
LE SILENCE DE LA MER
Jean-Pierre Melville | 1948 | 88 min
With Howard Vernon, Nicole Stéphane and Jean-Marie Robain.
During the German occupation of France, a convalescent nazi officer, Werner von Ebrennac, is forcedly hosted by an old man and his niece. The couple accept the officer’s presence in complete silence and refuse to speak to him.
An educated and well-mannered man, von Ebrennac tries relentlessly to strike up a conversation by telling about his own life and his profound love for French culture. Only after spending a short leave in Paris, von Ebrennac finally understands why his hosts are so unwilling to talk to him.
Based on the renowned book by the French partisan Vercors, Melville’s influential debut film is widely regarded as one of the most important films about the French resistance.
Melville, who became known for his genre-defining Policier films (Le Doulos, Le Samurai, Le Cercle Rouge..) and whose approach to filmmaking played a crucial role in reshaping the aesthetics of French cinema towards the Nouvelle Vague of the 60s, portrayed the enduring silent opposition of the French duo as a dramatic allegory of the people’s resistance against the Nazi invaders.
An active member of the French resistance himself, Melville was obsessed with transposing Vercors’ book onto a film and decided to produce the film independently, filming at the actual home of the novelist.
The world of silence and repressed emotions of Le Silence de la Mer was an instant success and remains one of the most iconic French war films of the 40s.
“Eloquent in its speech, its silence and its carefully chosen images. […] A claustrophobic masterpiece” – Guardian UK
“Filmed in the most daring way imaginable, using a new cinematic language of transient expressions and glances, the film was a root influence on Bresson and the whole French New Wave.” – Time Out
“Extraordinarily evocative”- Cine Passion
Serie les Maîtres du Cinema
A celebration of French cinema through the masterpieces of its most renowned directors.
Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at Uitkijk Cinema.
All films are screened in 35mm, with English subtitles.
Presented in collaboration with Maison Descartes Institut Francais.