2 mins to read

World War II through the eyes of the French

Un Village Francais tells the story of the German occupation of a small French town.

John Daly-Peoples
Fri, 29 Apr 2016

Un Village Francais, Season 3
Madman Entertainment
RRP $49.99
Release Date April 14

At last year’s French Film festival audiences had the opportunity to see the first of the programmes in the French mini-series “Un Village Francais” which, over the course of six series, tells the story of the German occupation of Villeneuve, a fictional small French town from 1941 until the end of the war.

Series 3 (four disks, 600mins) which has just been released with English subtitles is set in 1942 and is mainly centred on the arrival in the town of a trainload of Jewish refugees in transit. It falls on the town to provide for their shelter and welfare until their departure.

As with much of the series, this event leads to strained relationships between the townspeople, the local gendarmes, the occupying Germans and the Gestapo. There are splits in the community between collaboration and resistance, protection of oneself and family as opposed to working against the occupation. Strange and strained relationships develop within families where non-Jews are married to Jews and where collaborators are neighbours of resistance fighters.

This particular series takes on a contemporary relevance given the current refugee crisis in Europe and there are parallels as individuals question notions of the alien, loyalty country and the morality around protecting people. There are also incidents relating to a clandestine printing press and the arrival of a British radio operator sent to aid the resistance.

The series does not go in for the normal, clichés of most war movies. There are no big attacks on Germans, no brutal reprisals or brave speeches about France, liberation and democracy, just the confused reality of adjusting to foreign military rule. We are continually aware of how the occupation affects the ordinary individuals in their daily life.

At the centre of much of the action is the local doctor who is also the mayor, Daniel Larcher (Robin Renucci). The various conflicts impinge on him and he becomes a mixture of collaborator, resistor and confused citizen buffeted by the demands of the locals, the occupying forces, changing orders and bureaucratic demands.

The series is a marvellous portrait of life under occupation and the relationships between the Germans, the Vichy government and the townspeople. It is also an interesting study of the workings of the mid-20th century small town.

Each of the series consists of four disks with a combined running total of 600 minutes.

Tune into NBR Radio’s Sunday Business with Andrew Patterson on Sunday morning, for analysis and feature-length interviews.

John Daly-Peoples
Fri, 29 Apr 2016
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World War II through the eyes of the French