We Were One Man

One more: We Were One Man:

Not sure what to say. The story is a challenge, first. A German occupation soldier (Rolf) in France has been shot by the French resistance and becomes separated from his unit. He is rescued and nursed back to health by Guy, who’s recently escaped from a mental institution. Rolf stays with Guy and we find out that he’s horrified by war and is attracted to Guy. Guy is very lonely but a bit afraid of Rolf because he’s heard that German soldiers kill people from institutions.

Slowly they fall in love, which surprises Guy as he also has and is fond of a girlfriend, Jeanine. Jeanine eventually betrays Rolf to the resistance who take him away, leaving Guy to be yet again, alone. Before that, there are some scenes which celebrate Rolf’s and Guy’s physicality (in strength contests, in frolics and in bathing) and a final, very tender and passionate love making scene.

Guy goes to rescue Rolf with Rolf’s pistol he’d hidden, but mistakenly (?) shoots him instead, takes his body and plants it in a grave, and jumps in with it.

Some things really struck me:

1) It reminded me a lot of Douglas Sirk, the melodramatic and lush cinematography, the gathering strings, the filler.

2) I loved how Rolf at first was quite nonchalant about killing les fous, saying they were useless, and yet wound up falling in love with one. Guy eventually confesses that he was a ‘madman’ and Rolf realizes what an awful thing the military machine that he’d served really was.

3) The film seemed a bit to be like the movie that Molina ‘tells’ in ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman.’ The German is nice and honorable, even though he becomes de-Nazified, but the agents of unhappiness and distress are the French resistance, which is exactly the same as the move in ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman.’ It must have been quite brave to make this film in post-collaborationist France, or I have to wonder was the rather explicit sexuality (for 1979) placed on a German and a mentally deficient person in order to allow some deniability to the audience and to cater to homophobic feelings more prominent in the France of those days?


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