Episode 110: Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le silence de la mer (1949)

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In this episode, I talk about Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1949 film “Le silence de la mer.” It’s set in France in 1941 at the time of the Second World War. The Germans are occupying France, and a German soldier stays with a niece and her uncle who use their silence as a form of resistance against him. Every night, he comes to them and talks about his life, his interests, his love of France, and many other subjects, but they refuse to acknowledge him or speak to him. Over the course of the film, their feelings for him start to get more complicated. He is an occupier in their country and in their house but the intimacy of their meetings also humanizes him. This is not Melville’s most famous film but it’s one that I think is profoundly important because of the way it asks us to expand our ideas about what constitutes resistance and how we interact with those who we’re supposed to see as monstrous or as the enemy. I talk about Melville’s life, the making of the film, and much more. There are spoilers in this episode.

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