Lacombe, Lucien – Louis Malle (1974)

1960s: Days of Rage


Review by Pauline Kael: “Introducing himself to a delicate, fine-boned parisienne, the farm-boy hero of Louis Malle’s new movie does not give his name as Lucien Lacombe; he gives the bureaucratic designation—Lacombe, Lucien. He presents himself name inverted because he is trying to be formal and proper, as he’s been trained to be at school and at work, sweeping floors at his local, small-town hospital, in southwest France. When he meets the girl, France Horn—and falls in love with her—his new job is hunting down and torturing people for the Gestapo. He likes it a whole lot better than the hospital. The title Lacombe, Lucien refers to the case of a boy of seventeen who doesn’t achieve a fully human identity, a boy who has an empty space where feelings beyond the purely instinctive are expected to be. The time is 1944, after the Normandy landings, and the Nazis and…

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