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Lacombe, Lucien  - Criterion Collection
Lacombe Lucien - Criterion Collection
Actors: Pierre Blaise, Aurore Clément, Holger Löwenadler, Therese Giehse, Stéphane Bouy
Director: Louis Malle
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Military & War
R     2006     2hr 18min

One of the first French films to address the issue of collaboration during the German Occupation, Louis Malle?s brave and controversial Lacombe, Lucien traces a young peasant?s journey from potential Resistance member to G...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Pierre Blaise, Aurore Clément, Holger Löwenadler, Therese Giehse, Stéphane Bouy
Director: Louis Malle
Creators: Tonino Delli Colli, Louis Malle, Suzanne Baron, Claude Nedjar, Patrick Modiano
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Religion & Spirituality, Military & War
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/28/2006
Original Release Date: 09/29/1974
Theatrical Release Date: 09/29/1974
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 18min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 13
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French, German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Powerful Film With Great Impact
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 05/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As LACOMBE LUCIEN begins, you assume you'll like the main character. We find him at work in a nursing home. He decides to take a break from the tedious job of washing the floors, goes to the window to get a glimpse of the sunny day and enjoy the beauty of a small yellow songbird singing in a tree. We then see him reach in his pocket, take out a slingshot, and kill the bird. Later we'll see he does the same with rabbits and chickens. It's the Lucien of the beginning of the film and the one who we still see at the end.

LACOMBE LUCIEN, directed by Louis Malle, is a film that tells the story of Lucien, a troubled young man who appears to have few friends and is not welcome at home. We learn his father is in prison and his mother has taken up with someone else. Though we never learn about the father's absence, it's likely that it has something to do with the war which may be why Lucien seems to want to be a member of the French Resistance. He tries to join, but is rebuffed by a former teacher who believes he's too young and undisciplined. Lucien has an ambivalent reaction to the rebuff and we assume he'll just continue his employment at the nursing home. The action changes when patrons at a hotel capture Lucien's attention. His curiosity gets him in trouble but ends up being an opportunity. He then becomes involved with the police who are in line with the Gestapo.

Pierre Bliase is an excellent Lucien. He's consistent throughout and never gives us a chance to see the character as a lovable ruffian who would be different if is someone cared. Holger Lowenadler plays Albert Horn, a Jewish tailor and the father of Aurore Clement's France, the woman who becomes Lucien's love interest. The Horns accommodate Lucien, but it's unclear as to whether he realizes it is out of convenience and nothing more. Other characters in the film include members of the police who seem like typical turncoats, a middle aged maid who has a brief romantic entanglement with Lucien, and the villagers of Lucien's hometown. Like Malle's AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS, we get a feeling of occupied France toward the end of the war.

At the time of its release, the film was somewhat controversial. Only French resisters with noble character made it to the screen. Lucien is anything but noble. He's a misfit who never would have been accepted as a member of the police if it had not been 1944. Anyone with even a glimmer of intelligence knew the American would be liberating France in due time and had changed their loyalties but Lucien is unaware of any reality outside his own world. Malle had originally planned on setting the film in Mexico during a revolution but was unable to film in that country, so he decided that the setting could be France and the story set in the late days of the war. No one would ever guess from viewing the film of these changes which is a testament to the strength of Lucien's character and why the film can be so haunting today as we wonder what causes young people to become terrorists, join gangs, or take the wrong side in struggles that are ultimately against their best interest.
Evil at its most banal and inadequate
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 06/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien still impresses, although it does tend to amble in the third act just when you might expect it to tighten its grip. But it's still a casually powerful reminder of the less heroic side of France under Vichy rule (the Nazis are barely seen in the film) as its none too bright farmboy just drifts almost accidentally into collaboration with the German Police made up entirely of his compatriots after being turned down for the Resistance. The film's major achievement is in showing, much like fascism in general, the appeal that collaboration had to the disaffected and the underachieving outsiders in the community (only one of the `police' is a real zealot) and the attraction of undeserved and unearned power as Lucien finds the power he has over people (particularly the unspoken threat of handing his Jewish `girlfriend' - perhaps a little over symbolically called `France' - to the Germans) is far more intoxicating than killing mere animals.

Throughout, as with Melville's resistance masterpiece L'Armee des Ombres, there's a mundane sense of reality that heightens the drama. Set in the kind of small picturesque village that outsiders find idyllic but which is a tedious hell to live in for the locals, it shows how malaise and opportunity is far more of a driving force than malice. Certainly it's far from glamorous, its collaborators hanging round in a local hotel getting drunk and bemoaning their lot as the war news gets continually worse (as one points out, you have to listen to both the German and the British radio reports "and split the difference" to find the truth) and they gradually get picked off by the emboldened locals.

The only extra on Criterion's disc is the imaginative theatrical trailer, so this might be worth picking up in Criterion's boxed set which also includes Au Revoir Les Enfants, Murmur of the Heart and an exclusive disc of extras mainly focussing on Louis Malle rather than the films themselves."
Collaboration in France from an understanding point of view
Quilmiense | USA/Spain | 01/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

Very interesting film, and technically perfect. It captures the attention from start to finish, although it becomes a little agravating in its middle part because of the inactivity of its main character.

Beautiful exterior locations in the southwest of France during the weeks following the landing in Normandy of the British and American troops. A young country kid, very good at hunting and domestic chores, is rejected by the local teacher and leader of the resistence. Knowing no better he enrolls in the German police and becomes a collaborator. The role of Lucien is played by a non professional, and he does great. His naturalness couldn't be achieved otherwise. But I think the director didn't give him enough lines. Lucien is too quiet -unnaturally quiet-, too inactive. This becomes agravating through the middle section of the film when you wish he would do something, either way good or worse. But the story lingers as it is stuck with the Jewish taylor and his daughter. They seem to be feeling the same as the viewer: "What's up with you? Do something!"

It's almost 2 and a half hours of film, not 70 odd minutes as it says above. Not the best Malle movie (which to me is 'Au revoir les enfants', also during the German occupation of France), but it is a great movie.

It's an excellent study of characters, universal characters. It poses the question whether this simple young kid could be blamed for what he did by those who refused to accept him for the cause of the resistence. But then, who would we blame? If we start forgiving him, we'd end forgiving everyone, then justice would be so relativistic it would have no sense even defending oneself. It would be anarchy, the law of the stronger. Well, this is the kind of debate ir arises, because Lucien is a likable fellow, although simple.
Lacombe, Lucien
John Farr | 07/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A controversial and deeply ambivalent film about Vichy collaborators and the Resistance, Malle's troubling "Lucien" is based partly on the director's own youthful experiences during the German Occupation. Lucien's journey from peasant to enemy patron to persona non grata, played with an awkward, rugged innocence by Blaise, is a coming-of-age story that mirrors the choices of many during World War II. For daring to illuminate this fact, Malle was hounded to America. None of which detracts from "Lucien," an understated yet potent war drama heightened by Django Reinhardt's peppy period jazz and Malle's symbolic imagery."