The 317th section: the best French war film

Television continues to pay tribute to Jacques Perrin.

Since the disappearance of Jacques Perrin, several channels have changed their programs to pay tribute to him. After The Demoiselles de Rochefort (still visible on Arte.TV) Where The Drum Crabrescheduled on the public service, here is the 317th Platoonan unforgettable war film by Pierre Schoendoerffer, rescheduled this Sunday on C8.

Pierre Schoendoerffer’s life is intrinsically linked to the army and the former French colonies. Volunteer for Indochina, he holds his first camera for the Army Cinematographic Service and will live the fall of Diên Biên Phû, where he is taken prisoner. In the 60s, he became a war reporter, novelist and… filmmaker. It is this warrior experience that makes The 317th Platoon best war movie made in France : Schoendoerffer knows the terrain. He describes the bodies, the places, the traps, the enemy, with the ease of an old curmudgeon. Crossing enemy lines, clashes, bad weather, water, mud and death… everything here is transcended by a sticky realism and mind-blowing framing that allows you to see the slightest foliage, the panicked grin on a face or the fear in the eyes that twist into madness.

The film recounts the last days of the Indochina War and the almost total destruction of a section of soldiers. Bruno Cremer and Jacques Perrin are the two heroes of this daily chronicle and their performance in this story built as a tribute to those who sacrificed themselves is phenomenal. What Schoendoerffer films is war seen from the side of the losers; failure transcended by cinema, a subject also at the heart of Dunkirk, by Christopher Nolan)… The filmmaker films the virile fraternity with the combatants with lyrical flights on the esprit de corps or the honor of the soldier. But bare, desperate, his art above all brings to life characters of adventurers who fascinate by their anonymous greatness through events that they go through (undergo) as they can. A masterpiece, then, halfway between cinema verité and the New Wave; a masterpiece that would succeed in merging Jean Rouch and Godard in a coherent staging from start to finish. The camera is always placed from the point of view of the fleeing soldiers, waiting for an invisible enemy and their death march is captured in an almost documentary style, well “supported” by the sublime lighting of Raoul Coutard, him also, veteran of Indo.

War is disgusting as one character says. Especially when you look her in the face. Eye to eye. No frills. Like this 317th section.

Three things to know about… Le Crabe-Tambour, with Jacques Perrin and Jean Rochefort

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