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New high-definition progressive transfer, in the original aspect ratio
Exclusive video discussion by Ginette Vincendeau, professor of French cinema at King's College London [18 minutes]
Le Silence De La Mer - Jean-Pierre Melville's debut film - is an adaptation of the novella of the same title by celebrated French Resistance author Vercors (the pen name of Jean Bruller). Clandestinely written in 1942 during the Nazi occupation of France and furtively distributed, it captured the spirit of the moment, and quickly became a staple of the Resistance.
Melville's cinematic adaptation - partly shot in Vercors' own house - tells the story of a German officer, Werner von Ebrennac (Howard Vernon), who is billeted to the house of an elderly man (Jean-Marie Robain) and his niece (Nicole Stéphane) in occupied France. Resisting the intruder, the uncle and niece refuse to speak to the German officer, who warms himself by the fire each evening espousing idealistic views about the relationship between France and Germany. These propagandised illusions are shattered, however, when a trip to Paris reveals the truth of what is really going on.
One of the most important French films to deal with World War II, and a landmark in Melville's distinguished oeuvre, Le Silence de la mer is a lyrical, timeless depiction of the experiences and struggles of occupation and resistance.