Review - "The Last Metro" (1980) (TF1 Films Production)

WriterDave By WriterDave, 7th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>War

Francois Truffaut tackled almost every movie genre: romance, drama, suspense, comedy, family film, thriller, noir. In the element of the war drama, he decided to look at a small part of World War II, instead of a larger part. In this way, he tells a specific story which ultimately is more interesting than any big scale, sweeping epic.

Truffaut's War Film

By far Francois Truffaut’s most political film is 1980’s, “The Last Metro” with Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. Not many French directors had the courage to not only examine France’s underground resistance during its occupation in the 1940’s by Nazi Germany, but also France’s partial collaboration with Germany, that is, the Vichy government. Truffaut, director of such classics as, “The 400 Blows,” “Day for Night,” and “Small Change,” chooses to shed light on this subject in a more subtle way. Truffaut uses the milieu of the theater to tell his tale.

Deneuve plays a rather austere but ultimately courageous character who runs a small theater in the Montmartre. Deneuve’s husband, played by Heinz Bennent, is Jewish and has elected to remain in France because he can not bear to leave his wife. In fact, he lives under the stage like some post-modern Victor Hugo character.

Thus, “The Last Metro” is a behind-the-scenes wink at what actors, directors, producers, and stage crew must do to prepare for and bring their craft to the audience, but amongst the worst villains in world history. The brilliance here is how Truffaut shows the ins and outs of theater production using the genre of cinematic artifice. Truffaut takes the serious subject matter of Nazi oppression, and in contrast shows characters which are creating art as a means of expression and in there own way, resistance. Truffaut’s characters are more subtly defined; neither overly heroic nor on the flip side, cartoon versions of dastardly villains. Truffaut wisely concentrates on theater folk, which is something he knew a great deal about, and shows people as they lead their lives even in the midst of great world turmoil.

Truffaut illustrates the fact that people need entertainment (in this case, theater, art and film) even more at times of great stress. A parallel might be how well movies were attended in 1930’s Depression-era America despite massive unemployment and economic strife. Truffaut puts across the notion that art lifts people above their circumstances. Truffaut employs romance, drama, suspense, and even humor in “The Last Metro” which elevates the World War II tale, which might have been ordinary, into something extraordinary.


Catherine Deneuve, Francois Truffaut, Gerard Depardieu

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author avatar WriterDave
Writing can be many things to many people. For me, it is a way of expression and understanding. Reviewing films, hopefully helps myself and others better understand and get more out of the film.

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