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The Silence of the Sea

(Le silence de la mer)

Imported Print

featuring

Howard Vernon, Nicole Stéphane, Jean-Marie Robain,

Melville’s first feature is one of the most disturbing and poetic films on the Occupation. In the tradition that would become associated with Bresson, it is a film of interiors and silence, of gazes and time passing, but all, in fact, with narrative justification. A German officer is billeted in the country with an old man and his niece. They maintain a disdainful silence in the soldier’s presence as he sorts aloud through his feelings towards the French, the Occupation, and the niece. Too late the icy silence is broken with a barely audible word. Melville shot the film in the house of the story’s author, Vercors. This precise interiority (which looks forward to Les enfants terribles) gives a shock to the film’s exterior sequences in which the soldier begins to see the naiveté of his “marriage of our two people.” A montage of Paris through his awed eyes can’t help but recall the Nazi newsreel of Hitler’s dawn tour of his newly acquired gem.

Judy Bloch
FILM DETAILS 
Screenwriter
  • Jean-Pierre Melville
Based On
  • the novel by Vercors [Jean Bruller]

Cinematographer
  • Henri Decaë
Language
  • French
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 88 mins
Source
  • Institut Français
Permission
  • Janus Films
Preceded By

24 heures de la vie d’un clown

Jean-Pierre Melville, France, 1946

Melville’s debut short follows a day in the life of a Parisian clown.

FILM DETAILS 
Language
  • French
  • with English subtitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • 18 mins
source
  • Institut Français