LE SILENCE DE LA MER
1949, Janus Films, 88 min, France, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

Based on the popular Vercors novel about occupied France, director Jean-Pierre Melville’s feature debut is largely set in a French home commandeered by the Nazis for one of their officers (Howard Vernon). The uncle (Jean-Marie Robain) and niece (Nicole Stéphane) who live there cooperate grudgingly, refusing to speak to their German guest, though over time his friendly overtures have their effect. Made outside the French studio system on a shoestring budget with extensive use of location shooting and natural light, this involving drama helped plant seeds that would later blossom as the French New Wave.


ARMY OF SHADOWS
L’ARMEE DES OMBRES
1969, Rialto Pictures, 145 min, France/Italy, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

Arguably director Jean-Pierre Melville's most personal film (he fought in the French underground during World War II), this shattering portrait of the early days of the French Resistance is not so much a crime film as it is a fascinating companion to the director’s more-famous thrillers. The dark, fatalistic tone and the themes are all there from Melville’s noirs: betrayal, the loss of honor and the mechanics of brutality. Legendary tough-guy Lino Ventura stars in what Melville called “a nostalgic pilgrimage back to a certain period which profoundly marked my generation.” With Simone Signoret and Paul Meurisse.


HACKSAW RIDGE
2016, Lionsgate, 139 min, USA/Australia, Dir: Mel Gibson

This is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Costarring Teresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths. “Thanks to some of the greatest battle scenes ever filmed, Gibson once again shows his staggering gifts as a filmmaker, able to juxtapose savagery with aching tenderness.” - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.


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