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Frantz

Directed by Francois Ozon

France & Germany, 2016

HOME, 17 May 2017

Frantz

At the end of the Great War, a Frenchman lays flowers at the grave of a German soldier.

The dead man’s girlfriend watches him and is intrigued; she investigates further and then sets out to meet him. So begins this beautiful film, which is spoken sometimes in French, sometimes in German, and which is as much about Europe – the new Europe that has been forged, the war-torn Europe of the near past – as the dramas of these two people and these two grief-stricken communities.

Manet’s painting ‘The Suicide’ serves as a metaphor for a war where Frenchmen have killed Germans, and vice versa. There is a wonderful rendition of ‘La Marseillaise’ as an anti-war, or at any rate an anti-militaristic song; it put me in mind of the similar scene in Renoir’s La Regle du jeu. There is no mention of the Treaty of Versailles here, mind: that would have spoilt the mood of European togetherness and solidarity. This is a beautiful and a very moving film, nonetheless.

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