The deep conversation between a Japanese architect and a French actress forms the basis of this celebrated French film, considered one of the vanguard productions of the French New Wave. Set in Hiroshima after the end of World War II, the couple -- lovers turned friends -- recount, over many hours, previous romances and life experiences. The two intertwine their stories about the past with pondering the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb dropped on the city.
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(”Hiroshima Mon Amour” is briefly mentioned in this.)
If there is any specific sort of film that I can do without seeing for the rest of my life, it is any kind of Nazi and/or holocaust themed that was film directed by a 100% kosher Jew, as I cannot think of a single one that I do not find to be phony, pseudo-moralistic, grossly historically inaccurate, insipidly stupid and/or chronically clichéd, at least until relatively recently when I saw Le Silence De La Mer (1949) aka The Silence of the Sea directed by Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samouraï, Le Cercle Rouge). Indeed, as a result of my relative disappointment with his Jean Cocteau adaptation Les Enfants Terribles (1950)—a film that would have surely benefited from being directed by its singularly idiosyncratic surrealist source writer—I have never been that big of a Melville fan, at least until more recently when I realized that the auteur had contributed much more to cinema history than simply a masturbatory affection for old school American film noir. After all, simply the mere idea of an auteur that is famous for Americancentric frog noir adapting Cocteau was totally preposterous to me and I ultimately found Les Enfants Terribles to be like a sort of unintentional parody of the poet-cum-cinemagician, though I have learned to appreciate the film more over the years. Eventually after watching his nihilistic neo-noir Le Samouraï (1967)—a film that is seemingly infinitely superior to perennial hipster Jim Jarmusch's negrofied neo-Beat homage Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)—I came to appreciate Melville slightly more and decided to dig further into his oeuvre. While I still consider the director’s classics like L'armée des ombres (1969) aka Army Of Shadows—a film that is, not without good reason, regarded by some critics as the auteur’s most personal film—to be overrated, I cannot praise enough Melville’s particularly preternatural and equally poetic debut Le Silence De La Mer.
In his entry on Melville in the invaluable two-volume tome Cinema: A Critical Dictionary (1980) edited by Richard Roud, Tom Milne stated in regard to the film that it was, “An entirely outlaw production, since Melville had no union, no authorization to buy film stock, and no rights to Vercors’ novel, LE SILENCE DE LA MER was an act of defiance in more ways than one, and not least because Vercors’ story was, as Melville remarked, essentially anti-cinematographic.” Based on the 1942 book of the same name by Jean Bruller (who published clandestinely under the pseudonymous ‘Vercors’)—a somewhat experimental piece of literary defiance famous for promoting a ‘mental resistance’ against the krauts during the Vichy era—the film was not only Melville’s debut feature, but also the first of a number of cinematic works that the auteur would direct about the French Resistance, which he only relatively recently had been demobbed from thus making it a rather personal work for the auteur. Indeed, unlike shoah showmen like Spielberg and Edward Zwick, Melville—an Alsatian Jew born Jean-Pierre Grumbach who adopted the nom de guerre Melville after the American author Herman Melville upon joining the French Resistance—actually fought the Nazis, lost a brother and various comrades in the war, and had very personal reasons to make a ‘anti-Nazi’ oriented film. Of course, what makes Le Silence De La Mer especially intriguing is that the central figure is a rather sympathetic aristocratic Wehrmacht officer that defies stereotypes and is ultimately more internally destroyed by the Third Reich than the conquered French people that he tries in vain to establish a relationship with after being billeted in their home. Indeed, a rather romantic and absurdly idealistic artistic type, the German officer is a proud Francophile of the sorts that dreams of a long awaited marriage between Germany and France and thus is naturally completely internally obliterated when he realizes that his comrades plan to turn the country into a complete cultural wasteland.
Featuring a fittingly German Expressionist-like aesthetic of warmly gloomy shadows and iconic chiaroscuro shots, including the somewhat misleadingly yet nonetheless potent introduction of the German officer making his initial appearance in the film like some sort of ethereally elegant young Teutonic Dracula, the film even has a strangely gothic and even unheimlich essence that certainly makes it standout in Melville’s oeuvre simply on an purely aesthetic level. Interestingly, if the Nazi officer is a ‘monster,’ he is ultimately more sympathetic and likeable than the proudly defiant French male hero and his niece. The deceptively simple story of an elderly intellectual and his niece using the absurdly passive-aggressive tactic of refusing to say a single word to a German officer that rents a room in their home as a form of ‘resistance,’ Le Silence De La Mer is also a film that does not do much to help French stereotypes in regard to arrogance and cowardice yet somehow it manages to give the French a certain understated dignity. Incidentally, according to Melville, Soviet-Jewish writer and propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg—a dubious dude responsible for siring the official holocaust narrative during WWII and inciting the mass murder of Germans with agitprop leaflets featuring remarks like, “There is nothing as beautiful as a German corpse. Kill the Germans! – your old mother begs you, kill the Germans! – your child pleads. Germans are not humans, they are wild beasts”—felt that Vercors’ novel was, “a work of provocation, certainly written by a Nazi to support the Gestapo’s insidious propaganda campaign.” Surely, it is no big surprise that a seemingly sociopathic semite like Ehrenburg would believe such a thing as it does the opposite of his wartime propaganda by humanizing the Teuton and presenting an almost absurdly unconventional relationship between a kindly kraut conqueror and a bitterly defeated frog.
Despite its less than realist stylization and almost gratingly minimalist mise-en-scène, Le Silence De La Mer is a film that is largely inspired by historical fact and even has some covert ‘realist’ attributes. For instance, the film was actually shot on location at Vercors’ real home where the writer’s real-life interaction with an unconventional German officer took place, or as Melville explained in Melville on Melville (1971) edited by Rui Nogueira as to why he shot it there, “Because it was there that Vercors imagined this story on the basis of reality. A German officer who limped and played tennis as therapy for his leg had actually lived in his house. No rapport grew up between them, but Vercors had noticed that this officer was rather unusual, for his room was not only full of books that bore witness to his exceptional culture also contained a bust of Pascal instead of Hitler’s portrait. Starting from there, Vercors had translated the story into poetic terms. Thus his wife became his niece, for instance, to permit the introduction of a sublime love them.” Indeed, the film certainly does features one of the coldest and most hermetic yet nonetheless potent (anti)love subplots in cinema history, but I digress. Also of note is that the German officer was apparently at least partly inspired by German writer Ernst Jünger who not only served as an army captain in German-occupied Paris, but also, like Melville, was a personal friend of poet and cine-magician Jean Cocteau. Additionally, Jünger and Melville had similar political persuasions as both men were ‘right-wing anarchist’ types that stayed true to a sort of extreme individualism despite their obvious nostalgia for wartime experiences. Undoubtedly, the experimental doc La guerre d'un seul homme (1982) aka One Man's War directed by Argentinean Jew Edgardo Cozarinsky makes for a great double feature with Le Silence De La Mer as it juxtaposes excerpts from Jünger’s Paris WWII diaries with Vichy propaganda from the same era, thereupon bringing more complexity to the figure of the conflicted cultivated kraut officer.
To underscore the historical importance of Vercors’ source novel, Le Silence De La Mer begins with a nameless/faceless resistance fighter opening a suitcase that contains resistance material hidden beneath clothes, including the literary work in question, which is revealed to be written in tribute to “assassinated poet” Saint-Pol-Roux (aka Paul-Pierre Roux). In what ultimately proves to be a rather blunt yet respectably honest disclaimer from Melville, the film also opens with an inter-title that reads, “This film has no pretension of solving the problem of Franco-German relations, for they cannot be solved while the barbarous Nazi crimes, committed with the complicity of the German people, remain fresh in men’s minds.” Of course, after watching the film, one gets the impression that France and Germany shares an indelibly apocalyptic relationship that will remain forever forsaken. Indeed, it is no coincidence that Hitler declared on June, 25 1942 following news of France agreeing armistice terms that it was , “[The] most glorious victory of all time,” especially considering France’s seemingly perennial history of aggression against Germany. Needless to say, for the French, to be conquered and occupied by their ostensible inferiors came with much shame and resentment, which is pretty clear in Melville’s film. Luckily for the French, Hitler was no Napoleon.
Notably, the film begins with a nameless French uncle (played by Melville's wartime comrade Jean-Marie Robain)—an elderly four-eyed intellectual type that seems to spend most of his time on his ass pondering the deeper meanings of life—stating in regard to the seemingly suicidal absconding of an aristocratic German lieutenant, Werner von Ebrennac (Swiss actor Howard Vernon), from his home, “And so, he had left. And so, he submitted, like the others, like all the others of that miserable nation, and I tried to etch into my mind the events of these lest six months: Our evenings, his words, his revolt. Yet not even he, of all men, had the courage to resist his master’s order. His arrival was preceded by a major military deployment.” For the rest of the film, the uncle recounts how he and his niece (lesbian Rothschild Jewess Nicole Stéphane) spent the last half a year or so ignoring a cultivated and kind, albeit somewhat insanely idealistic, German officer that was renting a room in their humble abode. While it was somewhat easy for the uncle to stay silent, his niece clearly develops a mutual affection and true forbidden love for the German officer that eventually reaches a climax in a most anticlimactic way. A rather (anti)romantic cinematic where the sexual, social, and metapolitical ideals of a German romantic are crushed in a ruthless manner not unlike that of a half-frozen Iron Cross-adorned corpse of a German soldier being run over by a Soviet T-35 tank on the Eastern Front, Le Silence de la Mer is indubitably a anti-Nazi film yet somehow the viewer finds themselves condemned to suffer the internal misery of a quite cultivated kraut. Of course, considering the heavy influence of France and its culture on German Conservative literary figures like Stefan George and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (the latter of whom notably killed himself), the figure of the German lieutenant becomes all the more tragically nuanced. Indeed, the unrequited love subplot in the film is so intensely anti-climatic that it apparently greatly pained queer French Nobel Prize-winning French writer André Gide, or as Melville once explained himself, “I realized that poetry in the cinema is dangerous the day André Gide saw my film. After all, Gide was a man well qualified to understand a story like LE SILENCE DE LA MER, but he was terribly bothered by the girl's attitude. At the screening, it was obvious that he wanted them to rush into each other's arms. Of course, he was already very much in decline when he put himself out to come and see my film. The cinematic side of it passed completely over his head. He couldn't even remember having read the book, which was odd because, for a long time, it was thought in London that Gide had written it, and as a matter of fact, there are things in Vercors's work that are pure Gide. The influence is unmistakable. After the screening, the only thing he could find to say to me was: ‘I think the girl was a fool. She deserved to be spanked.’”
As a sensitive musical composer that once blew off a beauteous blonde bombshell because it disturbed him that she took pleasure in tearing off the wings and limbs of a bug because it bit her, Werner von Ebrennac is the preternaturally poetic sort of individual that has enough wild optimism to succumb to the utopianism of truly believing that the conquering of France by the Third Reich will eventually lead to the “…most beautiful marriage in the world.” As an artistic type, Werner seems somewhat absurd sporting a German officer uniform despite the fact that it looks rather good on him. In fact, the young German lieutenant eventually goes to great pains to not be caught dead in his uniform by the French man and his niece, though that does not stop them from refusing to say a single word to him. As his narration reveals, the French uncle is absolutely obsessed with Werner and carefully studies his every move and word. For example, if Werner farted, the Frenchman would probably reluctantly write an intensely intimate piece of stream-of-conscious poetry about it and how it greatly impacted his day. As for the Frenchman’s niece, it is revealed by the end of the film that she is an ice queen of sorts that has been hiding painfully strong romantic longing for Werner, who seems to completely reciprocate her feelings as revealed by his constant smiling at her and somewhat curious vocal denouncing of German women. In fact, when the French girl finally gets the gall to look at Werner, he is so deeply affected that he is literally blinded by the light of her penetrating gaze. As the Frenchman narrates in regard to Werner, “Each day, the same survey of the room, the same pleasure. His eyes rested on my niece’s face in profile, as always, stern and impassive, and when he finally looked away, I was certain I saw a kind of smiling approval.” Undoubtedly, Werner and the niece’s aborted-before-it-ever-started love affair is symbolic of the German lieutenant’s romantic pan-European utopian dream about a grand cultural marriage between France and Germany where the literary prowess of the former is combined with the musical domination of the latter.
Not unlike many German aristocrats of his time, Werner is a Francophile and wastes no time in expressing to his silently hostile two-person audience his great appreciation for French kultur, especially French literature, or as he enthusiastically states, “Balzac, Baudelaire, Corneille, Descartes, Fenelon, Gautier, Hugo. What a list. And I’m only up to H. Not to mention Molière, Racine, Rabelais, Pascal, Stendhal, Voltaire, Montaigne, nor any of the others. For England, Shakespeare immediately comes to mind. For Italy, Dante. For Spain, Cervantes. For us, Goethe. But to find others, you have to think about it. But when they say ‘France,’ who comes to mind? Immediately leap forth Molière, Racine, Hugo, Voltaire, Rabelais and who else? Names jostle like a crowd outside a theater, each trying to enter first. But for music, it’s my country. Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Wagner, Mozart. Which name comes to mind first? And we warred against each other. But it will be the last war. We’ll never fight again. We will marry. Yes, we will. It will be the most beautiful marriage in the world.” Rather romantic statements like these make Werner the perfect candidate for tragedy when he comes to the quite brutal realization that his National Socialist comrades are not exactly frog-friendly and instead see the French as an old perennial enemy that needs to be completely crushed with extreme prejudice. While Werner has many great things to say about France and its culture, he is somewhat less charitable when it comes to the nation's politicians, or as he explains in regard to his somewhat love-hate relationship with the country as a whole, “I’ve always loved France. I was a child during the last war, so my opinion then doesn’t count. Since then, I’ve always loved it, but from afar, like a faraway princess…because of my father. Because of my father. He was a great patriot bitterly wounded by our defeat…and yet, he loved France. He loved Briand. He believed in the Weimar Republic and Briand. He was enthusiastic. He said, ‘He’ll unite us like man and wife.’ He thought the sun would finally rise on Europe, but Briand was defeated and my father realized France was still led by your cruel bourgeoisie, industrialists like de Wendel, Henry Bordeaux, your old Marshal Foch. He told me, ‘You must never enter France except in boots and a helmet.’ He was on his deathbed, so I swore. When war broke out, I’d visited all of Europe except France.”
As if the Frenchman and his niece are his therapists, Werner acts completely vulnerable around the two and confesses to them not only his hopes and dreams, but also his internal pains and greatest fears, as if he feels totally obligated to offend no one and unequivocally prove that he is indeed also human like the people of the nation his nation conquered. In what is arguably one of the film’s various allusions to Melville’s comrade Cocteau, Werner even compares himself to titular ‘hero’ of La Belle et la Bête in what seems to be his cryptic way of flirting with the niece. While Werner is initially quite optimistic about the NS occupation of France and how it might lead to a Franco-German empire featuring an aristocracy of Übermensch artists, that all changes when he hooks up with some Nazi comrades. Indeed, as depicted in a flashback scene, Werner is not only told about Treblinka and gas chambers by a comrade in the SS, but the same chap also stoically states in regard to the French question, “We have the opportunity to destroy France and we will do so. Not only its might, but also its spirit. This is where the biggest danger lies. That’s our mission. Don’t kid yourself, my friend. We will be smiling. We will proceed with mercy. But we will turn France into a cowering dog.” In fact, Werner is even mocked for his love of a France, as another Nazi states to him, “You’re blinded by your love of France. That’s dangerous. But we will cure Europe of this pestilence. We will utterly destroy this poison.”
Of course, considering the Nazi's words and how Werner is momentarily blinded by her mere gaze, the niece can see symbolic of France (notably, as if influenced by Melville's film, Louis Malle would include a Jewess heroine that is literally named ‘France’ in his masterful WWII flick Lacombe, Lucien (1974)). Needless to say, Werner cannot help but report his dejecting experiences to the Frenchman and his niece and he even practically suffers a nervous breakdown while shrieking with a sort of foreboding doom and gloom, “There is no hope! No hope! No hope! Nothing, no OHS. Not only your modern writers, your Péguys, your Prousts, your Bergsons, but all the others! All these, all of them! They’ll extinguish the flame completely. Europe will no longer be illuminated by their light. ‘Nevemore.’” Arguably, the biggest disappointment for Werner comes in the form of a longtime friend that he describes as “sensitive and romantic” but who eventually became infected with a sort of almost demonic Nazi fanaticism, or as he explains,“He was the most rabid, veering from rage to laughter. He glared at me and said, ‘The serpent must be drained of its venom.’ He said, ‘Do you realize what you’re doing?’ I looked at him – looked deep into his blue eyes – and he was sincere. That’s the horror of it! They’ll do whatever they say – methodically and relentlessly. I know the determination of those devils.” At this point, Werner has became anti-German, or, more accurately, anti-Nazi, though he is more intent on self-destruction than rebellion.
After giving an eerie defeatist monologue about his great disillusionment with the Third Reich, Werner reveals to the Frenchman and his niece that he plans to leave the next day as he is decided to go on a suicide mission “To Hell” as he has requested to go fight on the Eastern Front where a miserably cold death is highly probable. After saying his final farewell, the niece finally breaks her silence and softly says goodbye while on the verge of tears, or as her uncle narrates, “To hear it, you’d have to be listening for it, but I heard it and so did Werner von Ebrennac.” As for the Frenchman, he is disappointed that Werner has not decided to pull a Claus von Stauffenberg like so many of his aristocratic background and rebel against the Nazi machine. The next day just before leaving the Frenchman’s house for good, Werner finds an open book with the following words, “It is a noble thing for a soldier to disobey a criminal order.” After reading the text, Werner looks up and discovers that the Frenchman is staring right at him in what is ultimately a particularly passive-aggressive attempt by the old man to goad the German lieutenant into rebelling. After Werner leaves for good, the Frenchman states while he and his niece eat soup, “It seemed very cold outside,” as if to foretell the German lieutenant's grim future. Of course, if Le Silence De La Mer was a Hollywood movie, it would conclude with Werner fucking the French niece and successful leading a German Resistance movement against the Third Reich, hence the intricately anti-Hollywood essence of the film.
For those that have studied German literature and history, it is not hard to see why it is believed by various film scholars like Ginette Vincendeau that the character of Werner von Ebrennac was at least partly based on Ernst Jünger, who became totally disillusioned with the Third Reich. In fact, as a result of the Third Reich, Jünger even lost his elder son Ernst Jr., who was killed near Carrara, Italy in battle after being forced to join a penal unit due to anti-Nazi sentiments he made (notably, his younger son Alexander, a physician, committed suicide in 1993). Interestingly, as if embarrassed by his previous nationalistic tendencies, Jünger, who lived in self-imposed exile after WWII, heavily revised his most internationally famous book, Storm of Steel (1920) aka In Stahlgewittern—a memoir of his WWI experiences—and excised the more nationalistic elements from it. While Jünger arguably wrote some of his greatest novels after World War II, some critics, like the magical Baron Julius Evola, argued that he suffered from a sort of spiritual and aesthetic deterioration as a result of his somewhat tragic experiences during WWII. Indeed, as Evola, who was such a big fan of Jünger’s early work that he translated it into Italian, explained in his ‘intellectual autobiography’ The Path of Cinnabar (1963), “On the other hand, over the years Jünger has come to distance himself from the book I had introduced to the Italian public, and has abandoned his original views. While the most recent writing of Jünger has significantly contributed towards his fame as a writer and man of letters, on a spiritual level it reflects a lapse: both for its merely literary and aesthetic nature, and because it betrays the influence of ideas of a different, and often antithetical sort from the ones that inform The Worker and other early books of Jünger. It is as if the spiritual drive that Jünger had derived from his life in the trenches of the First World War, and applied on an intellectual level, had gradually run out. Besides, not only did Jünger play no significant role during the Second World War, but it also appears that, when in service in occupied France, he got in touch with those members of the Wehrmacht who in 1944 attempted to murder Hitler. Jünger, therefore, should be numbered among those individuals who first subscribed to 'Conservative Revolutionary' ideas but were later, in a way, traumatized by the National Socialist experience, to the point of being led to embrace the kind of sluggishly liberal and humanistic ideas which conformed to the dominant attempt 'to democratically reform' their country; individuals who have proven incapable of distinguishing the positive side of past ideas from the negative, and of remaining true to the former. Alas, this incapability to discern is, in a way, typical of contemporary Germany (the land of the ‘economic miracle’).” While it would have been artistically unfortunate if he had chosen such a fate, it would have arguably been more fitting in regard to his legacy if Jünger had pulled a Werner von Ebrennac and tested his fate on the Eastern Front instead of staying in Paris and hanging out with Cocteau and Picasso, but I digress.
While none of Jünger’s novels have really been cinematically adapted unless you count Cozarinsky’s experimental doc One Man’s War or the rather goofy and hardly faithful short Die Ungenierten kommen - What happened to Magdalena Jung? (1983) directed by the late great iconoclastic auteur Christoph Schlingensief, Melville’s film is vaguely Jüngerian and, more importantly, it does act as a fine antidote to the platitude-driven antiwar sentiments of the German writer’s frog-blooded nemesis Erich Maria Remarque’s obscenely overrated novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)—a sort of anti-Storm of Steel that was used by Americans as anti-German propaganda—and especially the pre-Code 1930 film of the same name directed by kraut-hating heeb Lewis Milestone. Unlike the idiotically emotionally manipulative Milestone movie, Melville’s film manages to be antiwar without being insipidly pacifistic and experimentally nonlinear and relatively unpredictable instead of banally linear and painfully predictable. Indeed, despite his love of American culture and Hollywood, Le Silence De La Mer is as anti-Hollywood as films come, at least aesthetically.
Despite his later reputation for neo-noir films with very heavy American influences, Melville’s debut feature had a crucial aesthetic influence on one of the greatest anti-Hollywood auteur filmmakers of all-time. Indeed, the French master auteur Robert Bresson, who previously cast Melville in a small acting role in his second feature Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945), would not fully develop his signature auteur style until his third feature Journal d'un curé de campagne (1945) aka Diary of a Country Priest, which clearly borrowed much from Le Silence De La Mer. In fact, Melville himself was convinced of this and even once complained, “I sometimes read […] ‘Melville is being Bressonian.’ I’m sorry, but it’s Bresson who has always been Melvillian […] DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST is LE SILENCE DE LA MER! Some of the shots are identical […] As a matter of fact, Bresson did not deny it when André Bazin put it to him one day, that he had been influenced by me. All this has been forgotten since.” In fact, Bazin wrote in his classic text What is Cinema?: Volume I (1967), “The technique of Bresson’s direction cannot adequately be judged except at the level of his aesthetic intention. Inadequately as we may have so far described the latter, it may yet be that the highly astonishing paradox of the film is now a little more evident. Actually the distinction of having set text over against image for the first time goes to Melville in his SILENCE DE LA MER. It is noteworthy that his reason was likewise a desire for fidelity. However, the structure of Vercors’ book was of itself unusual. In his JOURNAL Bresson has done more than justify Melville’s experiment and shown how well warranted it was. He has carried it to its final conclusions.”
Indeed, Le Silence De La Mer is one of the rare examples in European art history where a Jew had a crucial revolutionary influence on art as opposed to simply parroting and aping the style of Aryan European artists, which becomes all the more strange when one considers Melville’s fetish for American trash. Indeed, Melville would later become more of what Ludwig Wittgenstein describe as a ‘reproductive artist,’ but his debut feature demonstrates a sort of Aryan artistic pioneering comparable to Carl Theodor Dreyer. In fact, France is rare in cinema history in that it produced a number of Jewish and part-Jewish cinematic pioneers, including Jean Epstein and Abel Gance (like Truffaut, the latter was the bastard son of a Jewish professional). Of course, as Wittgenstein also once wrote in regard to the unoriginal nature of Judaic artists, “It might be said (rightly or wrongly) that the Jewish mind does not have the power to produce even the tiniest flower or blade of grass; its way is rather to make a drawing of the flower or blade of grass that has grown in the soil of another's mind and to put it into a comprehensive picture. We aren't pointing to a fault when we say this and everything is all right as long as what is being done is quite clear. It is only when the nature of a Jewish work is confused with that of a non-Jewish work that there is any danger, especially when the author of the Jewish work falls into the confusion himself, as he so easily may [...] It is typical for a Jewish mind to understand someone else's work better than he understands it himself.” Melville would certainly demonstrate he understood American film noir better than the people that actually directed the original films, but with Le Silence De La Mer he at least managed to draw his own ‘blade of grass.’
Despite being based on a famous anti-Nazi French resistance novel and directed by a Jew, Le Silence De La Mer can surely be interpreted as a piece of revolutionary pan-European cinema that promotes the uniting of Europa in a real cultural sense and not in the current globalist neo-bolshevik/Sorosian anti-European neo-liberal EU sense. Indeed, while watching the film and listening to Werner von Ebrennac’s romantic monologue about a great marriage between Germany and France, I could not help but reminded of the Napoleon quote, “I wanted to prepare the fusion of the great interests of Europe, as I had accomplished that of the parties. I concerned myself little with the passing rancor of the peoples, for I was sure that the results would lead them irresistibly back to me. Europe would in this way have become in truth a united nation, and every one would have been, not matter where he traveled, in the same Fatherland. This fusion will accomplish itself sooner or later through the pressure of the facts; the impulse has been given which, since my downfall and the disappearance of my system, will make the restoration of balance possible in Europe only by merger and fusion of the great nations.”
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest mistakes of Third Reich was its shallow Nordic/Teutonic supremacism and discrimination of other Europeans, even if France arguably got what was coming to it as it had a long history of waging war against Deutschland and ultimately became a decadent hellhole that persecuted Germany after WWI. Although a fan of Uncle Adolf and his Dozen Year Reich, Euro-American revolutionary Francis Parker Yockey—a man that, according to his FBI records, had an astonishing genius IQ of 170—would have certainly agreed with many of Werner von Ebrennac’s sentiments as demonstrated by his neo-Spengerlian magnum opus Imperium (1948) where he argued, “Thus it is, that both for material and spiritual reasons, nationalism of the 19th century type is dead. It is dead spiritually for the reason that Europe has reach in its Cultural development the stage of Imperium. Even if there were no such frightful outer threat as exists, this would still govern. But, in addition, the basis of the power of every one of the old Western nations has been destroyed. No single one has sufficient resources, spiritual or material, to engage in world-politics independently. Their only choice is to be vassals collectively, or to form a unity of Culture-State-Nation-Race-People. This creates automatically an economic-political-military unit.” Of course the Europa of today is a dystopian anti-Imperium of ethnocide and racial suicide that is ruled by culture-distorters, traitors, and perverts that flood the continent with hostile (and oftentimes rape-happy) low IQ racial aliens from the Global South, and promote every form of sexual degeneracy and social dysfunction while outlawing certain healthy nationalistic tendencies. Surely, even the commie and anarchistic members of the French Resistance would not approve of the singularly degenerate frogland of today.
Despite what one might may think of the Third Reich, it is hard to deny that Yockey was right when he argued that, “From 1940 to 1944, nearly all Europe was united, and the eventuation of the Second World War showed to the entire world the unity of Europe, for all Europe was defeated, despite the tricky attempt to make some parts of the West feel ‘victorious.’” Indeed, while the UK and France might have played their roles in successfully destroying Germany during WWII, it cost them everything as they lost their empires and their spirits and are today only a pathetic necrotizing shell of what they once were and are being fed on be virtually every type of brown maggot from around the world. Likewise, while Charles de Gaulle might have defeated his Nazi foes and went on to rule France for over two decades, by the late-1960s even he was seen as a sort of Nazi by the degenerate Americanized younger generation—the dreaded frog boomers—who would go on to transform the nation into the crime-and-terrorism-ridden multiculti nightmare that it is today. Despite Melville’s film’s message of Nazi cultural colonization, it is hard to imagine that France would be in a more culturally retarded, artistically autistic, spiritual sick, infertile, decrepit, and seemingly pre-apocalyptic state as it is today had Germany won the war, but of course most Frenchmen (and Europeans in general) lack the intellectual honesty, integrity, and courage to even consider such an idea, especially since the Third Reich has become a virtual scapegoat for the rest of Europe. It is also probably no coincidence that the most powerful and successful pornographer in France today is a kosher chap named Greg Lansky that is infamous for his ‘Blacked’ videos where negroes defile white girls. Somehow, it seems quite symbolic that, in a country where virtually all rapes are committed by Arabs and Africans, a Hebraic pornographer would get rich off my making grotesque interracial fuck flicks.
Notably, Vercors’ source novel has been adapted at least two other times, including a 1980 BBC English-language TV version and a French-Belgian TV movie version entitled Le Silence de la Mer (2004) directed by Pierre Boutron, with the latter rather cheaply focusing on the doomed romantic subplot between the German lieutenant and French niece. To understand the grand cinematic majesty of Melville’s adaptation one just need to compare it to the 2004 version, which has about as much aesthetic value as a MiniDV home-movie of WWII historical reenactors. Although he would admit in interviews that he would have directed a totally different type of film had he created it later in his career, Melville seems to have been proud of his first film as demonstrated by remarks like, “LE SILENCE DE LA MER is the work of professional, even if well-known professionals of the time—who have completely disappeared since—described the film as ‘amateur stuff.’” Aside from considering it nearly immaculate in terms of its construction, I also regard Le Silence de la Mer as Melville's greatest film. Indeed, after recently watch Melville's other WWII/Resistance-themed films like Léon Morin, Priest (1961) and Army of Shadows (1969), I cannot help but feel that the auteur reached his peak in terms of political messages and aesthetic innovation with his very first flick. Additionally, despite being the work of a French Jew that lost a brother in WWII, I cannot think of another film that features a more nuanced and sympathetic ‘Nazi soldier,’ but I guess that is what one should expect from a right-wing Israelite that once stated in an interview on television, “I have friends who were once SS.” Of course, Sam Fuller, who also fought in WWII, also depicted Germans in a somewhat more sympathetic manner in The Big Red One (1980) than most Jewish filmmakers.
If there is any body part that is most memorably focused on in Le Silence de la Mer, it is unquestionably eyes, namely those of Adolf Hitler (in portrait form) and lead actress Nicole Stéphane. What I found especially interesting about this is the strikingly similarities between Uncle Adolf and the Hebrewess' eyes. While I am bored with conspiracy theories, I cannot help but be reminded that Stéphane was a Rothschild (her real name was Baroness Nicole de Rothschild) and some people believe that Hitler was a Rothschild bastard. In fact, the speculation about Hitler's dubious heritage was first brought forward in The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (1972), which is not exactly conspiracy trash as it is based on a Office of Strategic Services (pre-CIA) prepared by German-American psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer during World War II. While I find Stéphane to be annoyingly unattractive, not least of all because her Sapphic sensibility is always apparent, she demonstrates a sort of understated sensitivity that I think lifelong cinephile Hitler could have appreciated; whether he is actually related to her or not.
Accordingly to Melville himself, Le Silence de la Mer was made completely independently without unions and he agreed to burn the print of the film if it was rejected by a single member of a jury of ex-Resistance fighters selected by source writer Vercors, who was initially against the adapting of the novel despite allowing the then-novice auteur to use his home as the main location for the film. Luckily, the jury apparently loved the film, though it would be two years before it was actually released (indeed, the auteur started production on the film on August 11, 1947 in a shoot that would last 27 days). Considering its source novel, auteur, and the year it was shot, one could certainly argue that Le Silence de la Mer is the French World War II film par excellence. I certainly cannot think of a superior French WWII flick and I say that as someone that appreciates classics like Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Malle's Lacombe, Lucien (1974). Notably, Nietzsche once wrote, “History belongs to the living man in three respects: it belongs to him so far as he is active and striving, so far as he preserves and admires, and so far as he suffers and is in need of liberation.” Undoubtedly, Nietzsche's words certainly correspond to Melville and his lifelong relation to WWII, with his films undoubtedly providing him a certain liberation from suffering (which he seemed to hide quite well). Going back to Nietzsche once more, I think the greatest complement I can pay Le Silence de la Mer is that it succeeds in the Nietzschean historical sense as it fulfills the advice of the Teutonic philsopher that, “If you want to strive for and promote the culture of a people, then strive for and promote this higher unity and work to annihilate modern pseudo-culture in favor of a true culture; dare to devote some thought to the problem of restoring the health of a people which has been impaired by history, to how it may recover its instincts and therewith its integrity.”
(”Hiroshima Mon Amour” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Jean-Marie Le Pen as an MP in 1957.
Translated by Guillaume Durocher
Translator’s Note: The following is a translation from the concluding chapter of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Mémoires: Fils de la nation (Paris: Muller, 2018), pp. 389-391. The title is editorial.
When I began to write these Memoirs in 2016, I decided to divide them into two volumes covering equal periods of forty-four years, the first going from my birth to that of the Front National, the second telling the history of the Front National as I had experienced it. I will take the opportunity at the end of this first volume to go back to my beginnings, to regain some perspective.
Chronology is more than precision, it is the structure of history and life. We only become what we are over time. Some forget this. Some say: I can be whatever I want. Other says: it is written, mektub. These are symmetrical errors. I have written my life as I have gone along. In every one of its periods, I have acted according to my own way of thinking. I tell things as they happened, with the mental equipment of that time. And I tell things more or less chronologically. This establishes the structure of my Memoirs. In this first volume, I have told the picaresque adventures of a little Breton in greater France. I still have to quickly sketch the major factors: those which determined history in this half-century, and those which determined my own place and role. I will necessarily have to repeat two or three things that have already been said. This is normal in a summary. I hope I will be forgiven for it.
The post-war period witnessed the decline of Europe and the destruction of its empires under the effects of a decolonization that was encouraged by what were then called the two superpowers, the United States of America (the US) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR). Even before the end of the fighting in the Second World War, and immediately afterwards, under their leadership there began to emerge commercial and institutional globalization (the creation of the United Nations, the International Organization for Standardization, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the World Health Organization, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, the Council of Europe, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, etc.). In 1945, during the San Francisco Conference, Roosevelt proposed that this double hegemony should be organized peacefully. Stalin preferred to enter into a competition which would be called the Cold War, and which would lead to a dialectical relationship. This would put France in a difficult position in terms of tactics and strategy, as for example when the United States supported for a time our effort in Indochina [Vietnam] to contain Communism, even though their entire policy tended to favor eliminating us from Indochina, Suez, Algeria, and Africa.
We see that there are two ways to read this history, both of which are legitimate. From 1947, the Marshall Plan made Western Europe into a wealthy market for the US, while the Warsaw Pact created a hotbed of impoverished vassals for the USSR, leading to a double squeezing of our continent: We can thus describe the Cold War as a dialectical process utilized by the two superpowers to subjugate Europe and open the way for globalism. But at the same time, it is clear that this dialectic led to real and terrible conflicts, and that Communism is intrinsically perverse, as Pope Pius XI proclaimed in an encyclical; and that Communism, during the period covered by these pages, underwent a spectacular expansion in both territorial and intellectual terms.
Between the immediate postwar years and the 1960s, the world map was covered with the conquests of regimes which were either Communist or supported by the Communists: in Europe (Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltic states, with Greece escaping this fate only through a terrible civil war), in Asia (China, Indonesia, and with Malaysia under threat), and in Africa. What’s more, the public mind was submerged in a Marxoidpensée unique which was visible in the press, the arts, and publishing. This mentality favored massive collaboration, in France and Europe, between the intellectual class and international Communism and their insurrectionary operations in France. Marguerite Duras rightly said, “We did what the earlier collaborators did in relation to the Germans. We were collaborators.”
This was so even without the excuse of the occupation. The financial and hierarchical ties between Moscow and the French Communist Party, which we denounced at the time, have since been brought to light. The hegemony of Communism in the ambivalent processes of the Cold War and of decolonization remains the principal structural fact of this period, and I in no way regret having designated Communism as the primary enemy at the time. The threat posed by the Red Army was immediate. The gulag and the laogai’s camps were oppressing and killing people on a massive scale. In history, there are not only processes, there are also men, and the Communist bloc was worse for people than was the so-called free world, despite the latter’s own pretensions and weaknesses.
Many great consciences only began to distance themselves from Stalin after his death. Many more of them, such as Sartre, Picasso, and other, smaller fish, were remarkable by the odes they sang about him upon his death or the portrait they drew of him on that occasion. Incidentally, destalinization addressed nothing: the great destalinizer Khrushchev brought Budapest to heel and built the Berlin Wall. What’s more, on the whole the Communist Party’s fellow travelers have never repented and, worse, they long remained, if not the only recognized opinion-makers of this period, then at least the principal and most heard ones: in this respect, the case of Alexandre Adler is quite amusing. Can we imagine Bormann speaking of the excesses of Hitlerism on France Culture?
 A French novelist and filmmaker, who notably wrote the screenplay for Hiroshima mon amour (1959). During the war, she worked for the Vichy regime as part of a committee distributing paper rations to publishers (an activity which meant de facto censorship), and then joined the French Communist Party, from which she was evicted in the 1950s for being too critical.
 A Jewish academic and journalist who was a Communist Party member and activist from 1968 to 1979. He then became a highly hawkish neoconservative pundit specializing in “geopolitics,” writing for Libération, Courrier international, and Le Figaro. Adler has taken the lead in policing supposedly “anti-Semitic” discourse, participating in the prosecution of Daniel Mermet and denouncing Dieudonné.
(”Hiroshima Mon Amour” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Toronto’s ugly side
I suppose I should say something about the political controversy roiling the film festival — the boycott over the inaugural City-to-City program featuring films from and about Tel Aviv.
Canadian filmmaker John Greyson has pulled his film COVERED from the festival, and a group of about 50 celebrities, artists and “activists” ranging from Jane Fonda and Danny Glover to Slavoj Zizek and Naomi Klein signed “The Toronto Declaration” objecting to the City-to-City prorgam. Their public letter denounced Israel as an “apartheid regime” and called the program a whitewash.
I had only planned to attend one City-to-City screening — of the 1969 comedy BIG DIG, which I believe was the first Israeli film to win international acclaim (it was nominated for the Golden Globes best foreign film prize). I may see if I can fit another C-to-C film or two now, simply to see what will happen. I also may reconsider seeing THE TIME THAT REMAINS by Elia Suleiman. I got the film on the merits — I mostly loved his 2002 comedy DIVINE INTERVENTION — but Suleiman is one of the signatories.
I generally oppose politics interfering with art if that art be nonpolitical, and so I don’t see how there’s even a moral issue here. Hosting a series of films about Tel Aviv in no way, shape or form implies anything about Israeli or Middle East politics. Even if I don’t see the Suleiman, I will be seeing films at this festival from Iran and Egypt, as well as BIG DIG. I’m pretty sure I won’t have to trade in my “Likud is for wets” badge for a Kaffiyeh.
There’s other issues here. First of all, there’s the selectivity I am morally certain is going on. I guarantee you that if there is a C-to-C program next year, there will be no furor, regardless of that city’s past. If it’s Moscow, there will be no calls for inclusion of perspectives from Budapest, Prague or Tbilisi, to name cities in countries invaded by Russia more recently than the establishment of Israel (which is actually the beef — more on that anon). This is nothing but the latest example of the international cosmopolitan class using some event to throw at knee to the groin of “that shitty little country.” It’s what today’s (corrupt class of) artists and “intellectuals” do when they want to posture and feel morally superior. As well ask a tiger why it eats zebras — it’s its nature, what a tiger does; today’s morally and intellectially corrupt cosmopolitans blame Israel, it’s their nature, what they do. Israel has the best human-rights record in the Middle East and need make no apology for itself. But it is repeatedly held to standards no other country must meet and held in (selective) contempt by the international cosmopolitan class, including artists and “intellectuals.”
Second, the petition assumes that all the films being Israeli means that somehow Palestinians and their concerns are marginalized or that the program is a whitewash. That is, to put it gently, a crock of shit. I have not seen any of the City-to-City films yet obviously. Yet, to judge from the descriptions in the TIFF Guidebook, several are at least in part about relationships between Arabs and Jews in Tel Aviv, including A HISTORY OF ISRAELI CINEMA, PART 2, which largely covers a period when the Palestinian issue was a central concern, and often from a POV critical of Israeli government actions and sympathetic to the Palestinians. And this is true of Israeli cinema generally — the highest-profile Israeli release of the year is THE LEMON TREE, which, whatever its merits as a work of art (I didn’t see it because the trailer made it look like pat, gawdawful saccharine), is plainly a movie sympathetic to the hardships Israeli security measures in the West Bank have imposed on ordinary Palestinians. I myself saw at Toronto one year Amos Gitai’s KEDMA about the establishment of Israel, which ended with a lengthy impassioned monolog by an Arab about how “you may win today, we will never go away and we will haunt you forever.” In a free Western society such Israel, artists are free to be critical of their government’s foreign policy and they often are (I hear this is true of the US too). So to reduce this series to “an Israeli point of view” is always already to have misunderstood everything, most particularly the moral difference between Israel and its Arab neighbors — that political opinion and art runs the gamut from Peace Now to Likud (forgive the anachronisms). There are even hyper-Orthodox Jews who mourn the establishment of Israel every year and pray for its destruction because it was established as a secular state and not by the Messiah, and is thus a blasphemous pretender. There is simply no such thing as an “Israeli POV,” something the protesters are blind to.
The petitioners make great hay about the involvement of the Israeli government and claims this as proof that the series is intended as a whitewashing image-booster for Israel. There is a certain sense in which this is undeniable — one wouldn’t expect the Israeli government to consciously push the country as bad. But then, one would not expect that of any government in the world — again, why the double standard, why does only Israel have to morally justify itself doing what every government in the world does? Further, the involvement of foreign embassies, consulates and culture ministries in film series is entirely routine and unremarkable. I see a particularly large amount of it in Washington. I’ve seen diplomats from Ukraine, Hungary, France, and Taiwan make introductory presentations at film series; I’ve been to film screenings at the embassies of France and Austria; and seemingly every foreign series gives at least a “thank you” to the embassy of that country. Just last weekend, I saw Resnais JE T’AIME JE T’AIME, which was substituted for the planned HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR because of some unresolved copyright issues. A person from the French Embassy apologized and said “the ambassador himself sent a letter to M. Alain Resnais in an effort to resolve the issue.” Embassy involvement is routine, normal and means nothing — grownups know that. And BTW, Israel’s culture minister … is an Arab.
Which brings me to the ugliest claim in the petition — that Israel is “an apartheid state.” Alan Dershowitz handles the particulars of this vicious lie here. It’s a stupid claim that discredits the person making it as ignorant and morally obtuse. Word-roots aside, not everything that keeps people apart is “Apartheid.” There is no institutional separation whatsoever of Arabs and Jews in pre-1967 Israel and anyone who says there is is ignorant or a liar. Even Jimmy Carter, who mainstreamed the use of the A-word in reference to the West Bank knows it doesn’t even arguably apply in Israel proper. As for the West Bank fence and associated security measures, whatever may be said about them, they are forms of border security that every nation in the world with a hostile neighbor has always practiced and still does. Is North Korea (or South Korea for that matter) an apartheid state because the DMZ separates the geographic entity called Korea into the two states and seals them off from one another? Is Canada an apartheid state because it demanded identification and asked me questions about my business yesterday. And make no mistake. If you think Judea and Samaria to be occupied territory, to be not legitimately part of Israel and ought to be a Palestinian state, then it is foreign territory, whatever its de facto status at any point in time, making the fence and the stuff that goes with it a form of border security, not a separation of people. Look, it’s one thing to be critical of particular Israeli actions or even the residual presence on the West Bank and the security fence. But calling Israel an “apartheid regime” is, like Trutherism, Birtherism and Holocaust denial, simple and pure proof that the person has taken leave of reason in the name of some irrational hatred and no longer deserves to be taken seriously.
Which brings me to what is most interesting/depressing thing about this whole kerfuffle — that it’s about denying the legitimacy of Israel’s very existence, not criticism of particular sins it may be committing today. This series is called City-to-City, not Country-to-Country, and the focus is not Israel, but Tel Aviv. Why exactly MUST the Palestinian issue have a presence in a series about Tel Aviv. The city is located in pre-1967 Israel, far from the West Bank or any other “officially” disputed land. It was a Jewish city from the very beginning, and was even part of the (much-smaller) Jewish state envisioned in the offered 1947 two-state partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arabs rejected this and immediately attacked the Jewish state on the day it declared its independence; the Israeli victory in the resulting war produced the pre-1967 borders. The point of this history is to draw attention to a particular phrase in the Festival’s chickenshit response to the withdrawal and the boycott. C-to-C programmer Cameron Bailey released a statement saying that “that the city remains contested ground.” Exqueeze me? Baking powder? What about *Tel Aviv* is “contested ground”? And keep in mind that this is how the *programmer defends his choice.* The only universe in which Tel Aviv is disputed is one in which Israel’s per se existence is.
Combined with the ugly “apartheid” lie, the international diplomatic equivalent of “racism” (oh, have I mentioned the Durban Conference or the UN’s “Zionism is racism” resolution? … I’m seeing a pattern here) … it all suggests that the view on the table is one of absolute delegitimation of Israel itself. It’s the only explanation that fits all the facts.
[…] City-to-City program. Or rather the lack thereof. Last year, writing if the Tel Aviv furor, I fearlessly predicted the following: I guarantee you that if there is a C-to-C program next year, there will be no furor, regardless of […]
(”Hiroshima Mon Amour” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Roger L. Simon
I’m an old-timer with the Oscars. I was invited in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences writers’ branch nearly three decades ago, so I have had a long time to be blasé about the whole thing. And I am, more or less.You can pretend not to care, but there are less than 6000 voting members and only a few more than two hundred in the writers’ branch, so, unless you’re Woody Allen, you have to feel at least slightly honored to be part of it.Earlier this year, the L.A. Times attempted to stir up controversy by pointing out the Academy was 94% Caucasian and 77% male. They didn’t give the percentage that are liberals (not their narrative), but I would guess that is somewhere around 80%, give or take a Clint Eastwood and a Robert Duvall or two.This year, for the first time, we are voting online. This is no mean trick since the median age is 62 and I have a suspicion a serious number of geezer members are, shall we say, technologically challenged. (Evidently the powers that be are nervous, given the detailed explanatory emails we have been getting.) This particular voter, who has been running an online media company for seven years, even had minor problems when voting today that were taken care of speedily with a quick call to a 24-hour support line.The votes I cast today were in the nominating process. All members can nominate for the five best picture slots. Members of each branch also nominate in their specific areas of expertise. Hence I got to nominate as many as five each for best screenplay and best adapted screenplay. All the members vote in all categories in the finals in February.For the nomination process, I rarely vote for the full five, even for best picture. I guess I’m just one of those persnickety types who is hard to impress. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies. Whatever the case, I’d be a lousy film critic because I’d give too many pans and make everyone think I was a grouch, which maybe I am. Also, the studios would hate me.Nevertheless, I don’t think 2012 was a bad year for films. I quite liked two movies and enjoyed several others. (I won’t tell you whether I voted for them -- that’s against Academy rules. But I’ll leave you to extrapolate, Sherlock.)The two I most admired were Amour, the film by Austrian writer/director Michael Haneke that won all the prizes in Europe, and Silver Linings Playbook by the talented American writer/director David O. Russell.Amour was as close to a perfect film as you can find, although its subject matter -- love in the face of death -- is not exactly an upper. Still, the performances of the now octogenarian Jean-Louis Trintignant (remember A Man and a Woman?) and Emmanuelle Riva (remember Hiroshima, Mon Amour?) are exquisite and actually uplifting. I predict this movie will be watched many years from now and become something of an austere classic.Silver Linings Playbook is not nearly as perfect but it is an original and surprisingly affecting love story between two highly disturbed individuals, reminiscent in some ways of the Oscar winner As Good As It Gets. The performances here by Bradley Cooper and, especially, Jennifer Lawrence are also exceptional.
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