May 1940. Germany invades Europe, people panic and try to flee by any means possible. In France, Julien, a radio repairman, boards a train with his wife and child. As the men are placed in cattle cars with only the women and elderly allowed in the passenger cars, events begin their fateful turning as the insignificant repairman encounters an attractive fugitive and love begins – a doomed love.
May 1940. The Germans invade France and thousands flee on trains heading for safety. A man is separated from his pregnant wife and young daughter. He meets a woman on the train and protects her. She is a German Jew — suspected by the French — and wanted by the Nazis.
With actual footage from WWII, this film feels more like a documentary, which of course adds to the drama. The characters — even the minor ones — are well drawn and evoke sympathy. Romy Schneider — a beauty in so many other films — displays her incredible acting prowess. And Jean-Louis Trintignant, who became well known after “Z” (1969) and “The Conformist” (1970), is incredible: low-keyed, soft-spoken and poignant. Can two people fall in love so quickly? Under such dire circumstances that keep getting worse, this strange romance seems so real.
For the most part, this is not a Holocaust film … nor a film about Nazi atrocities. But the fear of German aggression is palpable. One character tells another — as they see the results of the German aircraft bombing: “Close your eyes, you’ll never know it happened.” This is what all refugees desire — to escape and forget. But this is a film that doesn’t want you to forget the prejudice, selfishness, and other horrors of war. But it also reminds you of the gentleness and humankindness.
“It’s them. I’d recognize that sound anywhere.” I am reminded of the Holocaust survivor who could not sleep for years because of the sounds she heard in her dreams/nightmares.
The last seven minutes are some of the most frightening and intelligent minutes dealing with the Holocaust even put on film The scene is fraught with danger and filled with possibilities. The ethical dilemma will generate hours of thought and discussion.
— myschrec (IMDB)