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Sunday, April 25, 2010

LES MILLES (1995)


Remember those Displaced Persons in CASABLANCA/’42? In this little seen French film, a trainload of detainees are in a life & death race to join them. Jean-Pierre Marielle stars as Cmnd. Perrochon, a WWI officer recalled to run a makeshift detention camp in Les Milles, France. Refugee Germans, Jews, Leftists and other ‘enemy aliens’ are being held like cattle as the German invasion begins. A man who goes by the book, Perrochon is determined to follow regulations, but France’s swift collapse changes his ideas. He knows his ‘protection’ is a death sentence for most of his charges. When is disobeying orders one’s duty? It’s an exciting story, and a largely true one, with a strong cast (Philippe Noiret, Kristin Scott Thomas) and a remarkable list of actual detainees (artist Max Ernst, writer Lion Feuchtwanger). If only scripter/megger Sébastien Grall had a better hold on his craft. He certainly gets no help from the crappy image on this SKD DVD, it looks like an amateur transfer from a VHS copy. But worth a look for WWII history mavens.

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