France, 1940. In the first days of the occupation, Lucile Angellier is living in a small quiet town with her mother-in-law as they await news of her husband, a prisoner of war.
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This film contains some scenes of a sexual nature and strong language
It began with a storm in June.
In the days before, German bombs had fallen
on the outskirts of Paris for the first time.
Terrified people were fleeing the city any way they could.
But deep in the countryside the war still felt far away
and I remained preoccupied
with the one I was already fighting much closer to home.
Are you not dressed yet?
We'll be late.
Do you really think we should go out today?
Why ever not?
My mother-in-law, Madame Angellier,
refused to accept the prospect of defeat,
even as the first refugees from Paris started to arrive.
Three years before I'd married her precious son at my father's insistence
and moved to Bussy.
With Gaston away fighting, she felt
I should learn how to run his properties.
So every month we visited our tenants,
on a Sunday, because Madame knew the farmers would be home.
Don't make any noise. That way you see how they really live.
She liked to catch them out.
I hated every minute of it.
Have you heard anything from your son?
No, not for over a week. And you?
No, nothing from either of our boys.
-People say Paris is going to fall.
-People say a lot of things.
It's a big farm.
And it's been difficult without my brothers.
We'll put what they owe us down to next month.
If I make any exceptions,
then Gaston wouldn't have a home of his own to return to,
and then what would he have been fighting for?
Come along, Lucile.
They don't want to pay the rent but they don't think twice
about buying silk stockings for that daughter of theirs.
Did you see?
I know it seems harsh, but if you show them any weakness,
they'll bleed you dry.
When Gaston comes home, he'll see he has a wife
who knows what it is to be a land...
Stop! Stop the car!
-We should turn back.
We've got potatoes to buy and four more rents to collect.
The sack looks heavy.
He can manage.
-How much do we owe you?
There are more cars on the road, from Paris.
My father always said,
"If you want to see what people are truly made of, you start a war."
Oh, what is this?
Go and see how long it goes on for.
Excuse me, Madame.
I wouldn't ask for me, but my wife's very tired.
We've walked all the way from Paris. Could she rest in your car?
Yes. Yes, yes, of course.
STEAM TRAIN CHUGS
-Are those ours?
-Theirs, always theirs.
DIVING PLANE WHINES
We need to get off the road. Could you take us to the nearest town?
Get away from my car!
Lucile! Get in the car!
When I tell you to do something, you damn well do it!
So THIS was war.
Paris had suddenly descended on Bussy.
-The whole town's been cleaned out.
Women and children escaping the bombs, looking for food and shelter.
Can I get you some water?
But the enemy had followed them here.
Madame Perrin, It's Lucile Angellier, Gaston's wife.
Get out of the damn way. You've got to leave, they're coming!
Fear had seized the town.
Rumours spread that a regiment was heading to Bussy.
I left only the bare essentials in Gaston's office.
Madame Angellier would rather see his things burn
than in the hands of one of their soldiers.
Brethren of Bussy,
a great tragedy has befallen our nation.
Millions have fled their homes,
many thousands have lost their lives,
and the fate of a whole generation of brave young men
still remains unknown.
Only God knows what's in store for all of us
and the country that we can no longer call our own.
We must hold firm together.
We must put aside anything that will divide us from our neighbour.
We must unite into one being, one family under God.
They're here already.
Let us pray.
-Anna, stand up.
-Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
-Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.
Under the authority and the signature of Marechal Petain,
a new constitution of the French state is signed,
guaranteeing the rights of labour, of family and of the fatherland.
You are defeated and we are now in charge.
All firearms must be surrendered
to German headquarters tomorrow morning.
As our Fuhrer writes,
"The sword will become our plough and from the tears of war..."
-How long will they be here?
-I don't know.
"..the daily bread of future generations will grow."
But I'm damned if I'm living by German time.
Those who have been billeted an officer
should return home and prepare for their arrival.
We don't look at him. We don't speak to him.
KNOCK ON DOOR
Madame Angellier, I'm Oberleutnant Bruno von Falk.
You have been told to expect me?
I will try not to inconvenience you.
I only require a room and somewhere to work.
I hope you don't mind, but I can't be late.
They didn't say anything about a dog.
May the Lord bless these gifts we are about to receive.
May he bless those who are unable to share his bounty with us.
Guide them from danger, keep them safe.
KNOCKING AND GRATING ABOVE
FOOTSTEPS ON STAIRS
May I kindly request the key to the piano and the desk?
I give you my word that they will be treated
with the utmost care.
Marthe will give you the key.
He'll be playing Deutschland Uber Alles before we know it.
Did you find somewhere to stay?
Yes, thank you.
Have you seen this one?
We have to take German money. We can't go out after nine.
And God help you if you're found listening to De Gaulle on the radio.
Have you got anyone?
That's the price you pay for having the best house in the village, I suppose.
The only benefit of having the worst.
Why does she look at me like that?
You don't know?
Your mother-in-law moved her and her parents into a barn.
Then she put a refugee from Paris
into their home and doubled the rent.
Name, occupation, address?
Benoit Labarie, farmer, the Montmort estate.
Name, occupation, address?
Your wife and children were in church yesterday. Where were you?
Working, not that you'd know anything about that.
Benoit, please be careful what you say to them.
We've been their tenants for generations. They never give us anything but grief.
Get inside, girls.
We'll have to get used to it, I'm afraid, along with everything else.
There had been no men in our town for so long.
The mothers of French soldiers looked on with disgust
and begged God to curse them.
Can I help you?
But the young women just looked.
You are beautiful. What is your name?
Celine, could I have a word with you, please?
Can I carry those bags for you?
I'm going that way anyway.
You can say, "No, thank you."
Oh, that's not for in here.
You're not going to like this.
If it makes you feel any better,
everybody who can afford to is doing it.
My mother-in-law pretended we were united in war,
but the well-off continued to reap their own wheat
and count their own money and to hell with everyone else.
Others, like Benoit and Madeleine, wouldn't have hoarded
even if they'd had the chance.
This is for you.
It's just, we have food to spare.
If you know what I mean.
You must miss Gaston, miss having someone else to talk to.
Yes, I do.
Do you write to him?
We don't know where he is.
Well, you should write anyway. Make you feel better.
Benoit would do anything to swap places with Gaston,
to have fought like a man.
Yeah. If you don't believe me, you can ask him yourself.
-Can we help you?
There has been a change of plan. I have been billeted with you.
I apologise for the inconvenience.
But they said that we were too far from the village to have anyone.
I was surprised myself. I was staying at the chateau.
-You're an officer?
But this is just a farmhouse. The rooms won't be good enough.
We haven't even got any running water.
You needn't worry about me.
This will do nicely.
This young officer relished his power to disrupt Benoit and Madeleine's lives,
as if their lives weren't difficult enough already.
And what about our soldier?
Every night I heard him.
Always the same unfamiliar music.
I was meant to resent him,
yet there was relief in his presence after months of silence.
Sorry to disturb you.
The dog isn't mine. We found him in an abandoned village.
At least he's a Frenchman.
Your house is beautiful, Madame.
It isn't mine. It's my mother-in-law's.
The piano is yours, I imagine.
And what makes you say that?
I don't believe your mother-in-law is a music lover.
My father gave that piano to me.
Do you play?
But Madame doesn't want any music in the house
until my husband's home to hear it.
Do you mind if I sit?
The piece you keep playing...
-..I don't recognise it.
-I've studied music, you know.
You wrote it.
I was a composer before the war, when I first got married.
-I've been married four years.
And a soldier four years.
She must miss you.
No, not really, not any more.
KNOCKING ON WINDOW
Schatzchen, come here.
-What are you doing here?
-I thought I'd left something.
So you come in without asking?
I can't hear you.
-Did you look at any of these?
-No, I promise.
"To whom it may concern, Monsieur Blanc is a married father of five children.
"For several months he has had...
"..sexual relations with a young woman half his age.
"He should be charged with public indecency."
"Monsieur Dubois is trading food on the black market.
"Monsieur Acar is a communist, a liar and a homosexual.
"The refugee at mass pretends to be a Catholic
"when she really is a dirty Jew."
What are they?
They are from your neighbours.
They were waiting for us at the town hall when we arrived.
Nothing more. They are just people settling old scores.
-Er...they should be burned.
-If I had my way, they would.
My Major has ordered me.
It is my job to read them. You can go.
I don't know why you ever married him.
Was it the land?
Your father lost all of his so he sent you looking for someone else's.
My father was dying.
He wanted to...find me a...good man.
A rich man.
What have I done?
I see everything that goes on in this house.
Please, he only asked to go into the garden.
You should have stood up and left.
Do you expect me to be confined to my bedroom?
-I expect you to be a faithful wife.
Then how can you speak, how can you even breathe,
when you know that your husband has been hunted down
by these animals?
When I see them, I want to rip their eyes out!
We've just heard that...
..Gaston's unit is in a labour camp in Germany.
Your husband is a prisoner of war.
This German is our enemy. Do you understand?
I can't talk to you.
I should have believed you.
I think this is why you came into my room.
Remember you're doing the rents today, Lucile.
Come on, Marthe. We're going to be late.
I'm going for a swim.
Can you swim?
The Viscount doesn't let the villagers swim in the lake.
Oh, sorry, I didn't mean...
I meant with your infirmity, can you...?
My horse fell. My leg was trapped.
Otherwise you would have fought, huh?
Yes, I would.
Nietzsche said a man is made to be a warrior.
Have you read Nietzsche?
He also said...
..a woman is made to please the warrior.
His leg, did it happen before or after you were married?
Perhaps I could buy a bouquet for my bedroom,
cheer it up a little.
Madeleine...we've got to bring the animals in.
Hey, a vase by my bed, if that's no trouble.
It's all there, Madame Angellier.
You'll get double that next-door now.
I learned that piece when I was young.
My father taught it to me.
-Anna's father taught her too.
-Oh! Is he...?
He and my other daughter got separated from us.
But they'll be joining us soon, hm?
That's enough practice for today.
Why don't you go outside and play?
Stay close to the house.
KNOCK ON DOOR
It's just hard with them living so close to us.
I thought you'd handed in your gun.
I did, the one that was registered.
-People have been killed for less.
-I need it.
Why don't you tell her why you're here?
The German...in my home,
he's chasing after Madeleine.
The officer that lives here could put pressure on him.
-I don't speak to him.
-That's not what I've heard.
I'm not here to criticise you. I just want him moved.
You have a complaint about a German soldier?
-So you'll do something?
I have no influence over him. We are of equal rank.
So it's one rule for us and another for them?
That's not what I said.
We lost the war. We don't have to lose our women as well.
Then perhaps you should have thought of protecting them earlier, my friend.
I will try.
But it might only make it worse.
Tell him to leave her in peace.
I won't ask again.
Our regiment could leave at any time.
I couldn't stand to think... that you hated me.
I don't hate you.
Then invite me for tea.
There's hardly any left. Your men have taken it all.
I'll talk to Bonnet,
but in return I only ask that we be decent to one another.
Where's the harm in that?
My mother-in-law would throw me out.
I've got nowhere else to go.
She has church tonight. She'll be another half an hour.
Just one drink.
How did you become a soldier?
I'm from a military family. It was expected of us.
My brothers and I signed up on the same day.
Your brothers, where are they?
One was killed in Poland.
Another one in Normandy.
The youngest has just left for Africa.
People shouldn't be sacrificed like this.
-I mean none of us.
-I can't think like that.
Questioning only makes things more difficult.
Do you believe in the war?
Let's say I believe in the communal spirit.
None of us like to admit it,
but single actions on their own don't mean anything.
So why is it that whenever I see you you're always on your own?
When do you see me?
PIANO INTRO PLAYS
Forget all this for two minutes. Come on.
MUSIC: Parlez-moi D'amour by Lucienne Boyer
Madame is on her way back. Go into the garden.
I'm supposed to be the one everyone's afraid of
but she could easily scare the plague away.
Why are all these lights left on?
I just wanted to thank you. You were very kind.
It's been a long time since I talked to anyone like this.
I thank you.
Well, I suppose you'll tell everyone now.
Oh, it's all right for you. All I do is work.
If I didn't have love, I...
I don't care where he was born.
They're human, just like us.
And they didn't throw my family out of their home. You did that.
That was my mother-in-law. It's not me.
Open your eyes, Lucile.
Our men are no better than them. Some of them are much worse.
Ask your officer. He knows.
Ask him what he's read in those letters.
Ask him what he's read about your husband.
You need to know. Everybody else does.
MURMUR OF CONVERSATION
How long have you known?
I didn't feel entitled to tell you.
You knew, didn't you?
That your perfect son has been having an affair
that was going on before we even met.
You should see how many of those are about you!
You always say how much you want a grandchild.
Now you've got one. Her name's Simone.
You can keep your stupid little secrets. I couldn't care less.
Can I play you something?
It's very beautiful.
What is it?
I married a man I'd only met twice.
I tried to convince myself that we were in love.
I might as well have been dead.
It's not possible.
Madame wants to see you straight away.
You remember Madame Perrin?
Yes, of course.
What brings you back from the Free Zone, Madame?
My son died in Normandy as the Germans advanced.
I've just received permission to visit his grave.
I'm sorry to hear.
How are things in Lyon?
At least you don't have a German living in your house.
I heard about your officer. He's friendly?
Well, I won't have anything to do with him,
but Lucile does, don't you?
Oh, but that's good.
We had to leave in such a hurry
that certain things were left behind.
The Germans are using our house now.
Could you go there and get them back?
CHATTER AND LAUGHTER
So this is what it means to be protected by the German army?
Look at me.
What happens in there is indefensible.
I have nothing in common with these people.
The only person I've something in common with...
A set of false teeth, a china dinner service,
household items of purely sentimental value.
I'd clawed back what crumbs I could from the enemy.
The air was thick with whispers.
Some saw me as a collaborator.
Others admired my bravery.
But none knew what I was really feeling.
Most of it is here.
I apologise for any damages.
At least you've got the nerve to stand up to these scum.
Marthe, can you take these bags upstairs, please?
WHISPERS: On Thursday she's going to visit her sister.
-We'd have the house to ourselves.
Come back here. Come back here!
So you're the one who's been stealing from us.
What do you expect us to do? You traitors would see us starve.
How dare you speak to me like that?
I'll speak to you how I like.
I'm not the only one who comes here.
We all do, and it's only going to get worse.
-Get out of here.
-Give me my fucking chickens!
You'd better pray your German friends stay a long time,
because the day they leave...
I caught him.
-I told you to let it lie.
-He still has a gun.
So does half the town, including myself.
He tried to shoot me with it.
You need to do something.
For three months we had lived alongside each other.
Now there would be no more holding back.
Let everyone else fight each other, hate each other.
Just leave us in peace.
I thought you said you were going to take the horse in yourself.
What have you done?
Go. I'll distract them.
Boys, quick. Now!
I have a warrant for the arrest of Benoit Labarie. Where is he?
He's in the field.
I don't know what's wrong with you farmers.
Always stashing your guns in the same places.
You won't be in the labour camp for long.
The Viscount begged for leniency. It's likely to be a year.
Plenty of time for me to fuck your wife
while you shovel frozen shit in Buchenwald.
Get off me!
Stay there. Don't move!
No, no, no!
KNOCK ON DOOR
Is your mother-in-law at home?
She's away for the night. What's happened?
How do you know where he is?
There's an old hunting lodge in the woods.
No-one's offered to take him in?
That's why I'm here.
They let me go but they're watching me.
If they're watching...
..you shouldn't have come here.
Look, Benoit's a good man.
No-one else is going to help him.
He can't move very fast and they'll hunt him and find him.
And when they do, they'll kill him. Do you know that?
You're the only one that can help me now. Please.
Sorry, I... I don't...
I thought you said Madame was away.
Your officer won't be coming, you know.
I passed him in the square.
He's leading the search party for my husband.
Shame on you!
What was I thinking?
My friends and neighbours were being hunted like animals
while I was living out a fantasy.
A disgraceful madness.
What are you doing here?
The dogs have got your scent. Put these on and come with me.
MEN SHOUT ORDERS
Yesterday an officer of the German Wehrmacht
was killed by one Benoit Labarie,
a resident on the Montmort estate.
Any person guilty of providing him with shelter, aid or protection
or who knows his whereabouts
is required to report this information
to German headquarters within 48 hours of this notice
or they will incur immediate execution by firing squad.
I'm going to have to talk to his commanding officer.
No, you won't.
-Not even his wife?
-I couldn't risk it.
You should have asked me first.
My grandfather put this here during the last war.
Get in, quickly.
Don't make a sound.
Why are you doing this?
Seeing him dressed in Gaston's clothes, it made me think...
..it could be my son.
We are looking for Benoit Labarie.
Lucile, I couldn't get back.
We were searching the woods all night.
Lucile, tell me. Something's wrong.
I made a mistake.
Where's your daughter?
-Where's your daughter?
-She's with her father.
We'll come back for her.
Have your feelings changed?
A wake is being held for Offizier Bonnet,
but we don't have enough table linen,
so could we borrow some of yours?
It belonged to my mother.
I trust you will return it in its original state.
Don't fret, you mustn't. There's still time.
Somebody might give him up.
-You know, Benoit didn't...
-I know. I know.
You did the right thing.
God can see into our hearts.
I love you.
I love you too.
BELL RINGS IN DISTANCE
HE BLESSES HIM IN LATIN
I had told myself they're just like us after all,
but they're not.
We're a different species, irreconcilable, enemies forever.
CIGARETTE LIGHTER CLICKS
I won't hide here till the war's over.
I'm not afraid of dying. I just want it to be for a reason.
-What can you do?
-I know people, in Paris.
People who are getting organised, fighting back.
You'll never get past the checkpoints. They're everywhere.
What if I take him?
Lucile, you can't do that.
I'm taking you.
What about the travel pass?
I know where you're going, you fucking German whore.
WHISPERS: He's safe.
MUFFLED, ECHOING VOICES
DISTORTED MUSIC PLAYS
What are you doing here?
MUSIC AND CONVERSATION CONTINUES
I need a travel pass.
I have to drive to Paris.
One of our tenants needs medicine. His daughter's very ill.
You heard about the Viscount?
You must hate me now.
I would if I were you.
Has he come to the house?
-That's a shame.
My orderly says he could smell a different man's tobacco.
He thinks you're hiding someone.
If I had even the slightest suspicion...
..it would be my duty to act on it.
I know that.
I said it was mine, a gift from my wife.
I'll instruct my orderly to issue the pass.
We will see each other again.
Not as a soldier.
You won't even recognise me.
Be careful... With your life.
Is it precious to you?
It is precious to me.
This is everything you'll need.
And, er... Gaston left us this.
Just in case.
Gaston will come back.
I'm sure of it.
HE GIVES AN INSTRUCTION
Hold on to me.
Hardly a word of our true feelings had ever been spoken.
Not a single word about love.
After the war I heard that Bruno had died.
But maybe he just disappeared,
I drove Benoit to a farmhouse
and a week later we made it to Paris.
We fought for what we believed in
and four years later France was free.
Over time I tried to forget the people I lost,
but the music always carries me back...to him.
France, 1940. In the first days of the occupation, Lucile Angellier is living in their small quiet town with her mother-in-law as they await news of her husband, a prisoner of war. Parisian refugees and a regiment of German soldiers take up residence in the villagers' homes, and while Lucile initially tries to ignore Bruno von Falk, the German officer staying with them, something develops between them.