46 / BD 28 Le Silence de la mer

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Jack Phillips
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#51 Post by Jack Phillips » Fri Jul 04, 2008 2:22 pm

Yojimbo wrote:Also interesting that Melville gravitated more towards the Hollywood-influenced crime film shortly afterwards
(although I haven't yet watched 'Leon Morin: Pretre' so I couldn't comment on similarities with it.
LM:P is more like Diary than any other film I know (although there remain great differences between them). You raise an interesting point about the similarities between mature Bresson and the non-crime films of Melville, although I don't know if either can be said to have influenced the other.

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GringoTex
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#52 Post by GringoTex » Fri Jul 04, 2008 5:50 pm

Yojimbo wrote: My favourite Bresson, 'Diary Of A Country Priest' has much in common with 'Silence' in terms of mood, pace, and feel, to such an extent that I wonder did it influence Bresson.
Melville always claimed he did Bresson before Bresson did Bresson. Typical Mellvillian hyperbole. I don't see it at all. The only similarity is that the father and daughter appear to give non-performances, but their stoicism is narrative-driven, as opposed to Bresson.

Their mise-en-scene is completely opposed. Bresson pinpoints action to the point of abstraction. Mellville, in this film particularly, concentrates on the stillness of space.

This is my favorite Mellville, but I doubt it had much influence on Bresson.

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Yojimbo
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#53 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:16 pm

GringoTex wrote:Melville always claimed he did Bresson before Bresson did Bresson. Typical Mellvillian hyperbole. I don't see it at all. The only similarity is that the father and daughter appear to give non-performances, but their stoicism is narrative-driven, as opposed to Bresson.

Their mise-en-scene is completely opposed. Bresson pinpoints action to the point of abstraction. Mellville, in this film particularly, concentrates on the stillness of space.

This is my favorite Mellville, but I doubt it had much influence on Bresson.
I read about the Melville comments subsequent to my viewing and forming my own impression.

I've never actually made a subsequent comparison, but I'd be very surprised if Bresson wasn't at least aware of the Melville film.
I've always found that directors tend not to acknowledge influences which critics and indeed, perceptive viewers, tend to associate.
Thats human nature, if nothing else.

But, as a Melville and Bresson fan, if it is the case, I suspect it could be considered a tacit acknowledgement by Melville that Bresson 'did' Bresson better than he did.

but, with regard to your comment regarding 'stillness of space', would you not agree that applies especially to 'Diary Of A Country Priest'?

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

Re:

#54 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Jan 18, 2009 11:27 am

Tommaso wrote:But the film also posed some questions that were not entirely answered for me by the (excellent) booklet. First about cinematic style: the essay says that Melville's use of light and darkness was extremely unusual for the time, and that he had to drop two cameramen before he found one willing to do the sometimes extremely dark shots. But was that lighting scheme really SO unusual at the time? The whole look of the film reminded extremely of Cocteau, who had done similar lighting schemes already in "La belle et la bete", three years earlier, and as there's even a direct reference to Cocteau in the narrative itself, the similarities seem no coincidence. Being more or less a Melville newbie, how does the style of this film relate to Melville's later work (apart from "Les enfants terribles", of course, which was virtually co-directed by Cocteau)?

Second, about the implications of the portrayal of the Germans in the film.

The character of Werner de Ebrennac, so the speculation goes in the booklet, might have been modelled at least partly on the author Ernst Jünger, who indeed was in Paris at the time, was a highly cultured man, and had a lot of friends among intellectuals there (again Cocteau, for instance). He published his diaries about these years after the war, and in them, there emerges a much more differentiated portrait of the German officers occupying France than we find in the film (including portraits of those later involved in the Stauffenberg attempt to kill Hitler). Jünger clearly was a strict conservative with a belief in militarist ideals (but not a nazi), and this stance brought him a lot of dismissals and attacks by the German left since the 50s, but apparently he was always accepted in France as someone who understood 'french' culture and a man who could think for himself.

So, if Ebrennac was indeed modelled on Jünger, why then does the film fall back to a pure black/white scheme when it comes to the portrayal of the Nazis in Paris, and factually disregarding historical time when mentioning Treblinka one year before its existence (as the booklet points out)? This was something that Melville put into the film, and is apparently not in the novel. Same goes for the flashback in which Ebrennac's girlfriend sadistically tears apart the mosquito after having praised all God's creation in the sentence before. This was the one scene in the film where I thought Melville (or Vercors) is stressing the point of the film so much that it becomes almost ridiculous. It also endangers the message of the film by making a pure caricature of the enemy and by seemingly demonstrating their 'inherent' or 'natural' evilness, as this moment occurs to happen totally unforced by the historical circumstances. I also can't recall (but I may be wrong) having ever heard of any plans of a 'total destruction of French culture' as are made by the nazis in Paris.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want this to be a 'political' point (even if I'm German), but an 'aesthetic' one. I know it's a book and film made with the intention of praising the résistance, but I cannot help feeling that the film falls into an unnecessary, purely 'propagandistic' stance and at least in those scenes loses the subtlety that it has otherwise. In this respect, the (seemingly inevitable) comparison made in the booklet between Ebrennac and Rauffenstein in "La grande illusion" may not really be to the point. Rauffenstein is by far the more conservative, 'manly' and militarist character (and he might have much more in common with Jünger as well), but Renoir's film is more openly 'humanistic'. But, as we have recently found out in our discussion about it, the difference may well be that between WWI and WWII.
Although there's a historically tuned-in side of myself (I'm a bit of an amateur WW2 historian) that wants to agree with you Tom, the film is 1) so much more than a WW2 tale of Occupied France and 2) in the terms that it is, we must remember how difficult it would be for any Frenchman, three years after the end of the war, to present a sympathetic view of German officers in general while rendering the character of Ebrennac. The effect might have been a bit much to take (for a resistance tale no less, much less one that needed approval from the 'board of Distinguished Resistance Fighters' who had to give their OK) in immediate postwar France.

I'm much more interested in 1)-- this is a tale of the coming together of kindred spirits, of a small sliver of humankind that will always exist and experience the epiphany of finding each other versus the great grey mass of oblivious, often idiotic souls. Souls who see and maintain in their hearts a fidelity to and cognizance of certain beauties and agonies of life in the universe. How this man who comes into someone elses home works gently-- knowing he's despised-- on feeling out and playing by repetition certain notes, and at the same time doing this not only for gentility's sake, but for his own sake, to maintain his own sanity, to keep alive his own sense of the sublime. And the great moment at the end when the unwanted becomes wanted, when the Stranger openly becomes almost the loved one-- it's one of the most moving moments in all cinema.. really.

As to the Germans-- Tom it was VERY difficult for Germans to speak out. Denouncement went on rampant, and really only within enclosed family units, and in fighting army divisions in garrison or out in battle, was speaking ones' feelings against the regime done openly. There aren't many tales of German resistance to the Nazis, especially once the war is rolling-- beyond the White Rose, and Stauffenberg and the Army plot in general. Even more heartbreaking than the staunchest SS or SD officer spouting teutonic vitriol, was the common German-- Ebrennac's poet freinds, etc-- allowing their mouths to be filled with horseshit.

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Tommaso
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Re: Re:

#55 Post by Tommaso » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:18 pm

Oh dear, it's so long ago that I wrote the post you quoted that my memory of the film itself has basically lost all the details I was talking about (which only indicates that I watch too many films anyway). But it seems to me that we do not disagree very much about the film at all. I fully understand that it would have been hard for a Frenchman (and of Jewish origin on top of it) to present a sympathetic view of Germans in general, quite apart from the fact that the difference between Ebrennac and the officers is a dramaturgical necessity. I only thought that one could have found different ways to achieve and show this difference; having them ramble on about the planned total destruction of Paris just seemed to me a rather easy way out, as the film turns them almost into caricatures this way, at least with hindsight. But I agree with you that even the film as we know it must have been difficult to take for some French viewers, after all that had happened in the years before.
HerrSchreck wrote:I'm much more interested in 1)-- this is a tale of the coming together of kindred spirits, of a small sliver of humankind that will always exist and experience the epiphany of finding each other versus the great grey mass of oblivious, often idiotic souls. Souls who see and maintain in their hearts a fidelity to and cognizance of certain beauties and agonies of life in the universe.
Yes, and that's why it reminded me so much of "Grand Illusion" in this respect. In a completely different way, thematically, I find something similar also in Sirk's "A time to love and a time to die", with its central character somewhat hopelessly struggling to maintain a certain amount of decency despite what is required of him, and in this case even paying for it with his life.
HerrSchreck wrote:As to the Germans-- Tom it was VERY difficult for Germans to speak out. Denouncement went on rampant, and really only within enclosed family units, and in fighting army divisions in garrison or out in battle, was speaking ones' feelings against the regime done openly. There aren't many tales of German resistance to the Nazis, especially once the war is rolling-- beyond the White Rose, and Stauffenberg and the Army plot in general. Even more heartbreaking than the staunchest SS or SD officer spouting teutonic vitriol, was the common German-- Ebrennac's poet freinds, etc-- allowing their mouths to be filled with horseshit.
In a word: yes. I'm still surprised that Jünger got away with his symbolic/allegorical speaking-out about the whole situation in his 1939 "Marmorklippen" novel. In film, there is of course virtually nothing produced during the regime that might be read as at least only hinting at opposition, though Käutner's (immediately banned) "Kitty und die Weltkonferenz" might be a point in case. But as far as normal people or army officers are concerned, there is no doubt about the situation as you describe it.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#56 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:38 pm

Sorry if this came outa left field tom (re your remark you wrote your original comments so long ago etc), but I had just revisted this film w the acquisition of the subbed MoC. Even without subs from the other dvd this film was my favorite JPM, but with subs (despite some of the florid quality of the text lost in translation, as David points out.. even my limited apprehension of French could recognize this) this film turned into one of the two or three most moving film experiences of my life. Seriously. Maybe not the Best Film quote unquote, but in terms of moving the fiber of my substance deep deep down in me, this film mined me way down to the guts. Incredibly beautiful-- it signalled the arrival of an amazingly rare individual... I mean this in terms of personality.

A piece of highest art.

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jbeall
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#57 Post by jbeall » Wed May 27, 2009 12:58 pm

Just finished watching this for the first time, and what a revelation! As Vincendeau points out in her commentary, the film succeeds at being simultaneously literary and cinematic, and as david hare points out, musical to boot. What strikes me, given the opening scene where the briefcase containing resistance materials is exchanged, is that the film eschews the suspense thriller entirely and instead develops so, SO patiently. How many first-time directors could have handled that subject material in such a manner?

I noticed a couple of typos in the subs (one that sticks out is around the 68 min. mark, where one of von Ebrennac's friends says "all writing will be allowed, except technical writing" when he clearly means the opposite), but the print is wonderful and detailed.

MoC deserve incredible praise for bringing this out--give yourself a pat on the back, peerpee.

This thread reminds me why I enjoy this forum so much; there are some brilliantly insightful comments, esp. those of Tommaso, david hare, and Herr Schreck, that have significantly deepened my (already considerable) appreciation of this film. Thanks all.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#58 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed May 27, 2009 8:06 pm

Ah, La Silence... my heart throbs just thinking of it. So many massively important and moving moments in that film, treated so fleetingly, go by in a flash, all that's important in life going by in a single heartbeat, it makes the stomach sink. It's just so incredible.

James
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#59 Post by James » Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:32 am

How does this generally rank among critics and moviegoers in the Melville oeuvre? I don't know much about him, but seeing as though a few posters here seem to like it a lot, I wonder where it ranks with the rest of his work. I've only seen Le samouraï myself, which was pretty good. The DVD looks awesome of course, and I'll probably buy it eventually even if you all tell me it's his worst movie, but I'm just curious otherwise. I know a few people here highly regard it, but I'm more curious as to the "general consensus".

doc mccoy
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#60 Post by doc mccoy » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:05 am

How does this generally rank among critics and moviegoers in the Melville oeuvre?
I would guess close to the top, but not quite: I think DVD Times gave it a 7 or 8, and generally elsewhere, it got four stars. Great, but not considered masterpiece status.

l'armee des ombres is widely regarded as Melville's masterpiece; Les enfants terrible, le deuxieme souffle and le samourai are also well liked. But the important point to remember about Le samourai is that it got more public exposure than any other Melville film because of its influence on Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Had other Melville films recieved equal exposure, it may not be within the top three or four.

It's hard to work out Le Silence's position to the rest because there simply are not enough reviews of Melville's works on dvd (certainly in Britain, at least). I remember when the BFI released Le doulos, Le cercle rouge and Leon Morin, Pretre on dvd around 2002/2003 and I was trying to decide which ones to buy - I could only find Empire reviews which gaves 4 stars each to Le doulos and Le cercle rouge; it did not review Leon. I think it might have given 4 stars to Bob le flambeur when Warner/Studio Canal released it on vhs.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#61 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:03 pm

Forget all that fluffo and join the ranks. It's a heart frying masterpiece.

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Hopscotch
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#62 Post by Hopscotch » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:47 pm

DVDTimes could give this movie a -1 for all I care.

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david hare
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#63 Post by david hare » Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:24 pm

I agree, I first saw a scratchy 16mm print of Silence in London at the Alliance Fr. in 1978 and was unable to see it in any other form until three or four years ago when I was given a copy of the Rene CHateau DVD. It has had virtually no commercial currency and certainly hasn't had the revival seasons given to say Samourai or Cercle ROuge or even Armee over the last decade.

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zedz
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#64 Post by zedz » Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:32 pm

david hare wrote:I agree, I first saw a scratchy 16mm print of Silence in London at the Alliance Fr. in 1978 and was unable to see it in any other form until three or four years ago.
Hah! I also saw it in London at the Alliance Francaise, but it was more like 1998 (in fact, it must have been 1998 - an unwitting anniversary screening, perhaps!)

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Finch
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#65 Post by Finch » Tue May 25, 2010 2:06 pm

Gaumont's French Blu-Ray has been confirmed as NOT English-friendly. Would MoC consider to port this over for UK/US customers?

Pics of the French Blu are here:

http://www.ecranlarge.com/movie_image-list-8971-dvd.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

peerpee
not perpee
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#66 Post by peerpee » Tue May 25, 2010 2:35 pm

We have been looking into this.

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andyli
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#67 Post by andyli » Tue May 25, 2010 3:00 pm

peerpee wrote:We have been looking into this.
That's the best news I have heard today. Please do check into more of Gaumont's blu-rays, such as Danton, General della Rovere, etc.

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tavernier
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#68 Post by tavernier » Tue May 25, 2010 3:12 pm

Danton has English subs.

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RossyG
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#69 Post by RossyG » Wed May 26, 2010 6:28 am

I've got the MoC DVD, but I'd certainly upgrade.

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effigy105
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#70 Post by effigy105 » Tue Jun 01, 2010 4:07 pm

RossyG wrote:I've got the MoC DVD, but I'd certainly upgrade.
Same. As much as I love Melville's later films this is definitely my favourite. The composition and, how should I say, candour of the image, would be all the more engrossing in HD. I don't think I could refuse a double dip. Actually, watching Truffaut's Le dernier métro last week I was reminded of my affections for this film. Not that the two seem to overlap much, aside from the obvious historical elements.

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swo17
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Re: 46 Le Silence de la Mer

#71 Post by swo17 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:36 am

Getting a dual format upgrade in January 2012.

Note that the Blu-ray will include two new special features:

Melville Out of the Shadows – a new French-made documentary about Melville’s film [41:00]
• Original theatrical trailer

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manicsounds
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Re: BD 28 Le Silence de la mer

#72 Post by manicsounds » Fri Dec 16, 2011 6:23 am


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TMDaines
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Re: BD 28 Le Silence de la mer

#73 Post by TMDaines » Fri Dec 16, 2011 9:15 am

manicsounds wrote:BD review by BDdefinition
It looks great! Look at the fluff on the edge of the woman's white jumper. Hopefully thehut will keep their price down until release.

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triodelover
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Re: BD 28 Le Silence de la mer

#74 Post by triodelover » Thu Dec 29, 2011 2:06 pm


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antnield
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Re: BD 28 Le Silence de la mer

#75 Post by antnield » Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:15 pm

The Digital Fix on the new dual-format edition.

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