Thursday, September 08, 2011

French docudrama "Army of Crime" chronicles WWII resistance led by poet

The 2009 French film “Army of Crime” ("L’armee du crime"), directed by Robert Guedigarian (based on the story by Serge le Peron), may seem like a companion piece now to “The Debt” (and the antithesis of “Sarah’s Key”).  It is produced by Studio Canal, available on a Koch Lorber DVD, as well as Optimum.  It won prizes at Cannes.

An intellectual and idealistic poet Missak Manouchian (Simon Abkarian), at some risk to his family, helps organize ragtag fighters and leads a new resistance in Paris against the occupying Nazis.  He had to deal with his own “ethical” objection to killing, and revolution in a real world sometimes goes against his idealism.  The historical event was the “Affiche Rouge” (“red poster”) affair, where the Nazis presented resistance fighters as something like our own illegal aliens.

An important concept is the Communist background of the protagonist, and the famous hymn from “Reds” gets played, quite stirringly.  The Germans claim that the “Jews and Communists” caused all the war in Europe.

There are some particularly brutal “rendition” scenes when fighters are caught, with rather explicit bodily damage.  Eventually, the Nazis take retribution against the poet’s family – the “perfect storm” of moral dilemmas.

Near the end, the gang is put in the box cars. The film has a curious epilogue.

The Mozart A Minor Piano Sonata is used a lot in the background.

The official site is here.

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