The Silence of the Sea
(Le silence de la mer)
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.
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.