A small town in the south-west of France, summer of 1944. Having failed to join the resistance, the 18 year old Lucien Lacombe, whose father is a prisoner in Germany and whose mother dates her employer, works for the German police. He then meets France Horn, the daughter of a rich jewish tailor.
Having been rejected by the Resistance for being too young, teenager Lucien Lacombe joins the Gestapo in a show of defiance. But upon falling for the daughter of a Jewish tailor, Lucien begins to view his actions in a very different light.
Louis Malle was never a director to worry about public opinion, having ruffled feathers with his intellectual study of incest in 1971s, Soufflé au coeur, Le, he practically ostracised himself with this simmering collaboration piece. Tho it has to be said that the sheer weight of the fall out in his home country would surely have taken him by surprise, however, what remains to this day is a highly accomplished character piece that engrosses from the get go. It’s now something of common knowledge that Malle drew from his own upbringing by way of motivation in some of his work, how much of this particular story affected him is not entirely clear, but what isn’t in doubt is that the directors time during the occupation of France lends this piece an aura of honesty, it feels personal, and the result is very special indeed.
Each individual viewer can interpret the sequence of events as they may, but just maybe Lacombe Lucien is a simple portrayal of a missed opportunity, and this missed opportunity coupled with naivety bred the wickedness that is viewed in the film. The theme of betrayal hangs heavy in the story, and the mere fact that Malle refused to take sides with his outlaying of the story, only furthers the sense of intrigue that covers the viewer come the stunning ending, an ending that creeps up on you and begs you for another thought process.
Sadly, first time actor Pierre Blaise would perish in a road accident a year after Lacombe Lucien’s release, his portrayal of the title character is truly wonderful and it leaves a truly fitting epitaph indeed. Lacombe Lucien is highly recommended cinema, uneasy and itchy at times for sure, but it’s never less than masterful in its approach on either side of the camera.
Director: Louis Malle
Writers: Louis Malle, Patrick Modiano
Stars: Pierre Blaise, Aurore Clément, Holger Löwenadler
Country: France | Italy | West Germany
Language: French | German | English
Release Date: 29 September 1974 (USA)
Also Known As: Lacombe, Lucien
Filming Locations: Arcambal, Lot, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Format : MPEG-4
Format profile : Base Media
Codec ID : isom (isom/iso2/avc1/mp41)
File size : 2.29 GiB
Duration : 2 h 17 min
Overall bit rate : 2 385 kb/s