One of the first French films to address the issue of collaboration during the German Occupation, Louis Malle’s brave and controversial Lacombe, Lucien traces a young peasant’s journey from potential Resistance member to Gestapo recruit.
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Continuing the unsurpassed French tradition of countryside (im)moral tales, Malle conjures a naturalistic milieu invaded by external and internal evil, the latter conspicuous in its banality. Blaise is astonishing as the brutal, yet reticent, poacher whose choice between resistance and Gestapo is coincidental. Mischeviously, yet admirably, it adumbrates in absurd indifference the portrait of self-hating Jews in fear.
More than an ideology which preaches hatred, LL depicts how fascist causes are spurred by those who are susceptible to power. Malle is a very clean film-maker, above all his films seem a precise calculation between classical storytelling and the camera's psychologising. It helps it has the devoid performance of Blaise. I was unnerved by its relevance.
A complicated look at how a young man becomes a collaborator. There are no easy answers, only Lucien's blank eyes and amoral character. Spurned by the resistance, he joins the Nazis. He doesn't really believe in anything. He simply grasps for power and control wherever he can find it.
Very perceptive about what happens to people during wars/occupations. They change, weak and strong alike. They misplace their own nations. It even happened in the U.S. during the Bush years, and we weren't subjected to what France was during WW2. The hero is a thug-baby yet given to remarkable innocence and candor; he falls in love with a girl whose childhood has been stolen too. History fucks them both.
Another interesting film by Malle. It was a wise choice to cast an amateur for the role. Lucien is a young man with no education and very limited intelligence. The first scene is a good summary of the man. He somehow finds himself on the collaborating side during WW2, and uses this to his advantage often quite stupidly, acting on impulses. It's a great study of a naive character and how the environment shapes him.
Now why would a young boy want to be a collaborator if not for booze, women, money, fast cars - and the sweet feeling of coercing people to do what you want. "Lacombe" is an honest exploration into the temptation of power and to the unpleasant side of the French society under the occupation. Some other European nations might do well to have someone like Malle to walk them through the dark territories of their past.