1/17/03: The Last Metro (1980)


Vous parlent tous français, non? I asked, “You all speak French, right?”. No? Oh, that’s unfortunate. I was really hoping that I could write this entire Blog in French! Oh, merde!

Metro

François Truffaut’s The Last Metro, was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film in 1981 at the 53rd Academy Awards. Truffaut who also co-wrote the story & screenplay and produced the picture but was “not content monopolizing the screen, cast France’s most beautiful woman”, Oscar Nominee Catherine Deneuve, in the role of Marion. Marion is a Christian married to Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent), the Jewish owner & director of the Montmartre Theater in German occupied Paris. It’s September 1942 and the theater is under heavy Vichy scrutiny ever since Lucas fled the country. No one knows, but Marion is actually harboring him in the cellar of the Theater. And through Marion & his notes from an earlier production of it, Lucas is secretly directing the upcoming production of The Vanished Woman. It stars Marion and Bernard Granger, played masterfully by the movie’s leading man, Oscar Nominee Gerard Depardieu. The film is a play within a play, and Marion & Bernard’s characters mirror themselves and blur the line between fact & fiction as life imitates art in the movie. 

Metro - Truffaut & Deneuve Metro - Lucas Metro - leads

One of the main themes of The Last Metro is risk: Lucas can be caught at any time; and the Steiners’ assets are on the line. Even though the cinemas & theaters in Paris do well because, unlike the residences there, they’re heated, there’s a chance that the citizens won’t want to see a Montmartre production under acting director Jean-Loup (Jean Poiret) and risk missing the last metro & breaking curfew in the event of an air raid? 

Metro - Jean-Loup

Truffaut was a 3-time Oscar Nominee who died in 1984 at just 52 years old: In 1960, at the 32nd Academy Awards, he shared the Original Screenplay Nomination for The 400 Blows, losing to the team who wrote Pillow Talk; and 15 years later, he was nominated for Best Director and shared another Original Screenplay Nomination for Day for Night, losing to Coppola for The Godfather Part II and Robert Towne for Chinatown respectively. The Last Metro was the second installment of what he’d hoped to be 3 movies he directed on the arts: Day for Night was about a movie director; but filming never began on The Magic Agency, the feature about music. Music does play big in The Last Metro, however. The excellent score was composed by Georges Delerue. And the mesmerizing waltz that’s thematic throughout the piece is My Lover Saint-John, written by Emile Carrara & sung by Lucienne Delyle. “How could I not lose my mind/When he held me prisoner in his arms?”, she sings. Anyone who has ever been in love understands her perfectly. François Truffaut’s The Last Metro, linked in its entirety below, is an excellent motion picture. Definitely worth renting for film fans, students of history, World War II buffs, and everyone interested in live theater. 3 Stars!

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