Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Jacques Gamblin, Denis Podalydès, Charlotte Kady, Marie Desgranges, Ged Marlon
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Set in german-occupied france during wwii this is the story of two filmmakers who face the choice of collaborating with the enemy or joining the resistance. Studio: E1 Entertainment Release Date: 06/28/2005 Starring: Ja... more »
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Human Heroes of the French Film Community
A. Gyurisin | Wet, Wild, Wonderful Virginia | 01/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Albeit a lengthy film, Laissez-passer (aka Safe Conduct) is indeed a beautiful film that significantly shows a crucial time and history of WWII. While most films that we watch dealing with war and battles happen between troops with artillery flying everywhere, there are not many that devote themselves to the unsung battles. Laissez-passer takes a chance and tells two detailed stories of men that were willing to give up their lives for not just their country, but also their own personal beliefs. In this film we follow two members of the French film community as they decide for themselves how they will help their country survive this terrible nightmare.
Outside of the opening sequence, there are little to no explosions in this film causing us to look beyond our normal images of war and see a more personal battle. The Germans were deeply rooted in their propaganda and used the French cinema to aid in their attempts to spread messages to all. Laissez-passer devotes its time to this film community's struggle to stay alive and fight for what they believe in. It is a heroic tale of personal endurance and passion. I am a huge film buff, and whenever possible I love learning more about other countries history of film. This film allowed me to see a war torn community pull together and keep a film dream alive. It is due to these persistent people that we can now enjoy French cinema today. Without them, it would have died during this era.
What made this film stand out above any other were the characters. While I felt that Aurenche could have been developed a bit stronger and given more to contribute to the film (outside of just being a ladies man), it was Devaivre that I couldn't keep my eyes off. His story was so strong and important that I found myself rooting for him at any possible chance. Jacques Gamblin gives his character so much passion and power that at times you believe him to be this almost a superhero of the war. The ability to cycle several hundred miles, the ability to fight a cold as well as be a revolutionist, and on top of that juggle a full time job as an Assistant Director of a studio completely controlled by the enemy. Wow. I was completely blown away with how Gamblin controlled this already complex character. While I think others would have delivered a very jumbled mess of a man, Gamblin instead dove deeper and delivered one of the best performances of 2002. His ability to remain calm in the face of terror as well as be 100% devoted to his country was outstanding. When you think of humans and their ability to muster the courage to continue, he is a prime example. Overall, these two characters did carry this film on their shoulders. They showed two elements of wartime in the film industry. One showed the fighter, while the other was the lover. An interesting take on the two types of heroes, I just wish Aurenche would have been given more screen time. I wanted to know more about his character.
Outside of the characters, you have a very strong story written by Jean Cosmos and Devaivre himself recollecting his story during this time. Adapting from his story allows us to feel more comfortable with the events and see them as truth instead of fiction. It allows us to see the struggles of the characters, instead of thinking that it is just Hollywood drama inserted into overwhelming events. I also enjoyed the fact that this was not a film riddled with explosions and the Rambo-esque hero. The ability that director Bertrand Tavernier had to keep this film focused on the characters and the humanity of the situation was outstanding. He gave WWII a human feel from outside of the American perspective. He showed us what the world was like during this time while even showing some political satire of the lack of respect that the British had for the citizen soldier of France. Tavernier successfully gives the audience both a strong feeling of the war as well as a very insightful view of cinema in France during this time. I learned so much about what the French had to do for the Germans that it felt like a film history class. It was a refreshing and scary realization on a community that here in America we regard as indestructible. It only continued to show how war could hurt and infect even the most powerful of behemoths.
Overall, I was very impressed with this film. While there were some jagged moments with the characters (more development would have been nice), I felt that the overall message and themes came through crystal clear. Tavernier brought the horror of this era out and showed the world that France fought with just as much passion and dedication as the rest of those involved. It is a dark chapter in France's history that was beautifully told by Tavernier.
Grade: **** out of *****"
One of Tavernier's Best
Gabriel Oak | Middletown, CT USA | 06/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film was barely shown in the U.S. but it's a fascinating recreation of French filmmaking during World War II and a moving study of a few of the people who worked with the French Resistance. Much more serious than another recent French release set during WWII, Bon Voyage. The film will probably be more interesting to lovers of French filmmaking than the general public. But the performances are first-rate so you might want to give it a look even if you might not be initially interested."
Triumph of the Human Spirit: Artists in a Time of War
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Laissez-passer' (Safe Conduct) is an epic film not of the giant battlefield scenes type, but of the inner humanity placed in jeopardy during war times. Director Bernard Tavernier has been making important films since the 1960s and here directs a story by Jean Cosmos and Jean-Devaivre that explores the survival of writers and actors and filmmakers during the German occupation of Paris in World War II. The result is an intensely rich examination of that period of time when the French Resistance successfully and bravely struggled against the Nazi invaders: yet another result is a film that is so long that it calls for an entire evening's concentration on a story that begs to be edited.
Based on a true story of screenwriter Jean Aurenche (Denis Podalydès), firm in his conviction that he would never write in support of the Nazi regime, and director Jean Devaivre (Jacques Gamblin) who opted for complying on the surface with a film production company headed by the German occupiers while retaining his firm stance as part of the French Resistance, the story involves a large cast who portray actors, production people, friends, victims, Germans, etc and the plot is at times so convoluted that you may need to pause and backup to make sure you have not lost any important information.
The actors are outstanding and the complete production crew of this film has created a tense, atmospheric, intelligent tale that makes the audience respect even more the incredible bravery of the French Resistance movement. This is brilliant filmmaking - it just goes on a bit too long at 2 hours and 45 minutes! Grady Harp, September 05
Interesting, if somewhat overlong, historical drama
Joe Sixpack -- Slipcue.com | ...in Middle America | 09/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The German occupation of France in WWII is the focus of yet another Parisian epic... Portrayed this time through the filter of the French film industry, which was appropriated by the Germans in an attempt to use it as a tool for Nazi propaganda. The Germans didn't try to warp French movies ideologically as much as they tried to maintain the high quality of film production as if to say to the world, "hey -- look how great things are here under our rule!" The German Reich tried to employ as much top talent as they could, and the writers, actors, directors, producers and stagehands all needed work, which tried to do without giving too much moral ground to their German jailkeepers. This film, by director Bernard Tavernier, is the fictionalized true story of two men -- screenwriter Jean Aurenche, who refused to write a single word in service of the German state, and director Jean Devaivre, who worked for a German-held production company, but also acted as a saboteur in the French Resistence. The movie is moody and engrossing, but also rather long, and deeply anchored in the now-arcane lore of the early French cinema. Most of the specific references will go past your average modern audience, but the main narrative is clear and compelling enough that a viewer willing to sit through the two-and-a-half hour length may find this film fairly rewarding."