François Ozon – Frantz (2016)

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Quote:
Screwball comedy master Ernst Lubitsch took a rare stab at straight drama with 1932’s “Broken Lullaby,” the tense story of a soldier who attempts to make amends with the family of a man he killed in World War I. Preeminent French director François Ozon also wanders into unconventional territory with “Frantz,” his astonishingly beautiful and inquisitive remake of Lubitsch’s film, using it as a springboard for a profound look at alienation and grief. Continue reading

Lucian Pintilie – Un été inoubliable AKA An Unforgettable Summer (1994)

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Quote:
In 1925 Romania, young Marie-Therese Von Debretsy refuses the flirtatious advances of her husband’s commanding officer. As a result, the cosmopolitan family is reassigned to a brutally bleak and dangerous outpost on the Bulgarian/Romanian frontier whereboth their relationship and humanity are severely tested. Continue reading

Roberto Rossellini – Era notte a Roma AKA It Was Night in Rome [Long ver.] (1960)

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Quote:
In keeping with his previous film Il generale Della Rovere, filmmaker Roberto Rossellini pursues a wartime theme in this “personal epic” Era notte a Roma.
The film is set in Rome during the German occupation after the armistice on 8 September 1943.
The story concerns three Allied POWS, who escape from their camp and hide out in Rome. The trio is given shelter and aid by a beautiful young woman who deals with black market disguised as a nun, her partisan boyfriend and several other people.
The three prisoners (one is Russian, one English, one American) display a genuine warmth towards each other that probably is meant to reflect the three countries’ joint effort against Nazi Germany.
Just as the variety of Italians involved in their protection as well as in their pursuit seems to be meant to reflect the chaos and mistrust reigning in those dark days. Acts of courage alternate with acts of treachery.
For reasons that remain obscure, Era Notte a Roma was never initially given a widespread American release. Continue reading

Shûe Matsubayashi & Hugo Grimaldi – Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi AKA Storm Over the Pacific AKA I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1960)

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Synopsis:
On December 1, 1941, a Japanese fleet of 30 warships sails for Hawaii; when diplomatic negotiations in Washington fail, the task force commander, Adm. Isoroku Yamaguchi, receives orders to attack Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating aerial assault on December 7, flight navigator Koji Kitami returns to Japan and Keiko, his childhood sweetheart. Although deeply in love with the young woman, Koji fears that marriage will make him less worthy as a naval officer. During the next few months, he participates in many successful raids on U. S. and British ships and planes, but during the battle at Midway he becomes less certain of the invincibility of the Japanese fleet. While he is aboard the carrier Hiryu , the vessel is attacked by U. S. dive bombers and badly damaged. Officers order the ship abandoned, but rather than leave it as a prize of war, a Japanese destroyer is given instructions to sink the carrier. As the Hiryu goes down, Koji and others give a final salute.
— TCM.com Continue reading

Jirí Krejcík – Vyssi princip AKA Higher Principle (1960)

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SYNOPSIS from kviff.com:

Jiří Krejčík’s A Higher Principle, together with Weiss’s film Romeo, Juliet and Darkness (1959), was one of those Czechoslovak films at the forefront of what is characterised in literature as the second wave of war prose. After years of the schematism and trivialisation of heroic pathos, films were gradually appearing towards the end of the 1950s which treated the theme of war with greater intimacy, and the heroism of those who resisted evil and Nazi barbarity was not so apparent at first glance. Krejčík selected a story by Jan Drda written almost immediately after the liberation, whose short text he and the author considerably reshaped. Continue reading

Elmo Nüganen – Nimed marmortahvlil AKA Names Engraved in Marble (2002)

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A friend lent me this film a number of years ago and I remembered liking it very much, but as years went by I was never sure if I liked it because it was a good film or because of fond memories of the friend. I recently got hold of it once again and, have seen it again, realise this is a fine film that deserves to be much better known that it is.

The film is set in Estonia in 1918, as the country fights for indepedence. My guess is that knowledge of the conflict might add more enjoyment to the film, but it’s not essential. The film follows a group of students who volunteer to fight for their country. The narrative concentrates on Henn Ahas, one of the students but not the leader, who is played in a wonderful performance by Priit Voigemast. In fact the performances are all uniformly superb, and the script is tight and switches effectively between scenes of war and more human elements of the story. This is a fine film, which works both as a moving story of comradeship and as a military drama. Continue reading