which I only remark on because it seems to me I haven’t watched a film
for ages, so precious has time come to seem that I can no longer bring myself to waste ninety minutes of it idly. Not, needless to say, that I often
do anything but waste time, but I like at least to consider that I’m about to do something constructive, which isn’t possible once you’ve sat down
to watch a film.
Anyway, the work was Jean-Pierre Melville’s first film, Le Silence de la Mer, which I enjoyed greatly with its
voice-over and its long silences, its small cast and limited locations. Oh, they knew how to make small-budget films back then in the French New Wave:
think Godard and his usual cast of three or four, the backdrop of Paris and a few rolls of film.
How often, though, that you encounter one work
of art which deals with the same area as another you’ve also recently come across. So it was with this film: its concern with the French reaction to
the German occupation in WWII reminded me of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Flight to Arras which I’m still currently in the middle of. de
Saint-Exupery is slightly earlier though: the Germans are still invading, though it is certain they will conquer, as indeed, in de Saint-Exupery’s
vision, it was always certain they would conquer: for it is de Sainte-Exupery’s belief that the French knew they would lose even before war was
declared, but they must declare it anyway, for the sake of pride; just as they continue in the novel to hurl their soldiers suicidely into the defence
of their country, knowing there is no point, knowing the inevitable.