The Last Metro

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The Last Metro
Dernier metro affiche.jpg
Film poster
Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by François Truffaut
Jean-José Richer
Written by François Truffaut
Suzanne Schiffman
Jean-Claude Grumberg
Starring Catherine Deneuve
Gérard Depardieu
Jean Poiret
Heinz Bennent
Andréa Ferréol
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Néstor Almendros
Edited by Martine Barraqué
Production
company
Les Films du Carrosse
Andrea Films
SEDIF
SFP
TF1 Films Production
Distributed by Gaumont
United Artists Classics
Release date
  • 17 September 1980 (1980-09-17)
Running time
131 minutes
Country France
Language French
Box office $23.3 million[1][2]
3,393,694 admissions (France)[3]

The Last Metro (French: Le Dernier Métro) is a 1980 historical drama, written and directed by François Truffaut, that stars Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu.[4]

Opening in 1942 during the German occupation of France, it follows the fortunes of a small theatre in the Montmartre area of Paris which keeps up passive resistance by maintaining its cultural integrity, despite censorship, antisemitism and material shortages, to emerge triumphant at the war’s end.[5] The title evokes two salient facts of city life under the Germans: fuel shortages led people to spend their evenings in theatres and other places of entertainment, but the curfew meant they had to catch the last Métro train home.

In 1981, the film won ten Césars for: best film, best actor (Depardieu), best actress (Deneuve), best cinematography, best director (Truffaut), best editing, best music, best production design, best sound and best writing.[4][6] It received Best Foreign Film nominations in the Academy Awards[7] and Golden Globe Awards.[8]

The Last Metro was one of Truffaut's most successful productions, grossing $3,007,436 in the United States; this was also true in France, where it had 3,384,045 admissions, making it one of his most successful films in his native country.[1]

Plot[edit]

On his way to start rehearsals at the Théâtre Montmartre, where he has been hired as male lead for a new production, young Bernard Granger tries to talk to an attractive woman, who repeatedly rebuffs him. When he arrives, she turns out to be the costume designer Arlette, a lesbian. He is taken to see the icily beautiful Marion, who is both owner of the theater and leading lady. Her Jewish husband Lucas is believed to have left Paris but is in fact living in the cellars, where Marion visits him each evening to bring books and food and talk about the new production. However Arlette is quite struck by Bernard, whom Lucas can just hear through a heating vent but never see. Unknown to anybody at the theater, Bernard is a member of a Resistance group and delivers the bomb that kills a German admiral.

The first night is loved by a full house but one of the newspaper reviews next morning is viciously hostile, damning the show as Jewish. The writer Daxiat, an anti-semite, hopes to oust Marion and take over her theatre. While cast and crew are celebrating their success in a night club, Daxiat enters. Bernard, furious that the man has insulted the gentile Marion, hustles him out to the street and pushes him around. Furious that Bernard has jeopardised her theatre, Marion refuses all contact with him offstage. One night, pretending to be air raid wardens, two Gestapo men start searching the theatre and it is Bernard who Marion turns to in desperation for urgent help in concealing Lucas and his effects. When Bernard's Resistance contact is arrested by the Gestapo, he decides to devote his life to the cause and give up acting. As he is clearing out his little dressing room, Marion comes in to say goodbye and the two make love on the floor.

After the war, Bernard returns to be male lead in a new play that the freed Lucas wrote while hiding. In it, the female lead played by Marion offers to share her life, but he claims he never really loved her. At the end of the opening night, Bernard, Marion and Lucas stand hand in hand to take the applause.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Truffaut had wanted to create a film set during the French occupation period for a long time, as his uncle and grandfather were both part of the French Resistance, and were once caught while passing messages. This event was eventually recreated in The Last Metro.[10] Truffaut was inspired by the actor Jean Marais’ autobiography, basing the film on this and other documents by theatre people from during the occupation.[11]

This film was one instalment—dealing with theatre—of a trilogy on the entertainment world envisaged by Truffaut.[12] The instalment that dealt with the film world was 1973's La Nuit Américaine (Day for Night),[12] which had won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Truffaut completed the screenplay for the third instalment, L'Agence Magique, which would have dealt with the world of music hall.[12] In the late 1970s he was close to beginning filming, but the failure of his film The Green Room forced him to look to a more commercial project, and he filmed Love on the Run instead.

Truffaut began casting in September 1979, and he wrote the role of Marion especially with Catherine Deneuve in mind for her energy.[13] Gérard Depardieu initially did not want to be involved in the film, as he did not like Truffaut’s directing style, but he was subsequently convinced.[14]

Most of the filming took place in an abandoned chocolate factory on Rue du Landy in Clichy, which was converted into a studio. During shooting Deneuve suffered an ankle sprain from a fall, resulting in having to shoot over scenes at short notice. Scriptwriter Suzanne Schiffman was also hospitalised with a serious intestinal obstruction.[15] The film shoot lasted fifty-nine days and ended on April 21, 1980.[16]

Themes[edit]

A recurring theme in Truffaut’s films has been linking film making and film watching.[17] The Last Metro is self-conscious in this respect. In the opening the film mixes documentary footage with period re-creations alongside shots of contemporary film posters.[18]

Truffaut commented “this film is not concerned merely with anti-semitism but intolerance in general” and a tolerance is shown through the characters of Jean Poiret playing a homosexual director and Andrea Ferreol plays a lesbian designer.[19]

As in Truffaut's earlier film Jules et Jim, there is a love triangle between the three principal characters: Marion Steiner (Deneuve), her husband Lucas (Heinz Bennent) and Bernard Granger (Depardieu), an actor in the theatre's latest production.[4]

Reception[edit]

The film recorded admissions in France of 3,384,045.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b JP. "Le Dernier métro (1980)- JPBox-Office". Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  2. ^ "The Last Metro (1981) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  3. ^ Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films at Box Office Story
  4. ^ a b c Lanzoni, Rémi Fournier (2002). French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present. Continuum. pp. 314–315. ISBN 978-0-8264-1600-1.
  5. ^ Holmes, Diana; Ingram, Robert (1998). François Truffaut. Manchester: Manchester university press. p. 18. ISBN 0-7190-4554-1.
  6. ^ "Palmares". Académie des César. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  7. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
  8. ^ "Golden Globes, USA: 1981". IMDB. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  9. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 238–239.
  10. ^ Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  11. ^ Insdorf, Annette (9 February 1981). "How Truffaut's 'The Last Metro' Reflects Occupied Paris". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b c Higgins, Lynn A. (1998). New Novel, New Wave, New Politics. University of Nebraska Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-8032-7309-2.
  13. ^ Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  14. ^ Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  15. ^ Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 356. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  16. ^ Baecque, Antoine de; Temerson, Serge Toubiana (2000). Truffaut. Translation from French by Catherine. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-520-22524-4.
  17. ^ Insdorf, Annette (1994). François Truffaut (Rev. and updated ed.). Cambridge u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47808-3.
  18. ^ White, Armond. "Truffaut's Changing Times: The Last Metro". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  19. ^ Insdorf, Annette. "How Truffaut's 'The Last Metro' Reflects Occupied Paris". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  20. ^ Catherine Deneuve box office information at Box Office Story
  21. ^ "1981 Award Winners". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.

External links[edit]