Saturday, June 20, 2015
Lacombe Lucien is a 1974 French war drama film about a teenage boy during the German occupation of France in World War II. It is based in part on director Louis Malle's own experiences.
In 1944 Lucien Lacombe, a 17 year old peasant living in the Lot region of south-western France, is rejected by the French Resistance. Instead, pro-German collaborators obtain information from him about a resistance leader and recruit him into the "Milice Francaise", a fascist group that hunts down Resistance fighters.
Lacombe enjoys his new power and position, but falls in love with France Horn, a French-born Jewish girl who lives in seclusion with her father, Albert, a tailor, and her paternal grandmother, Bella, who live in fear of deportation. Forcing himself upon the girl, Lacombe becomes protective of those very people targeted by his superiors. The events take place in June 1944 during the Normandy landing by the Allies. Lucien, while protecting France to the end, knows that he is aligned with the wrong side, for which he will pay with his life. There is no visual depiction of his death by Resistance firing squad, just a terse final statement to that effect.
Originally, the script was entitled Le faucon ("The Falcon") and was supposed to be set in present-day Mexico. However, Malle was not allowed to shoot in Mexico (nor in Chile), so he was forced to rewrite the script, giving it a wartime French setting. The script was then retitled Le milicien.
Louis Malle's film was daring for its time for suggesting that not every member of the French public was a member of the Resistance; that indeed, many were willing accomplices to the Vichy government, and the sting of the film remains to this day.