The dichotomy dilemma
Laissez-passer, Effroyables Jardins and Monsieur Batignole
in Reframing remembrance
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Chapter 3 examines the grey zone which exists in between resistance and collaboration: an ambiguous zone which challenges characters with a moral dilemma. This had been seen in Le Silence de la mer, La Traversée de Paris, La Grande Vadrouille and Le Dernier Métro, but more recently in Laissez-passer (Bertrand Tavernier), Effroyables Jardins (Jean Becker) and Monsieur Batignole (Gérard Jugnot). These films offer nuanced representations of actions taken by everyday French citizens in order to survive and, usually through a transformative experience, make a contribution to the Franco-Français conflict. The self-reflective narrative of Tavernier’s Laissez-passer places itself within the cinema industry during the time of the Occupation by focusing on two (real-life) men; an assistant director and a screenwriter. Each resists in some way, both feeling the heavy responsibility of their roles as storytellers and ‘history makers’ during this difficult period. Jugnot’s Monsieur Batignole and Becker’s Effroyables Jardins each interrogate the notion of choice and agency, with central characters forced to make a decision, to pick a side; attentisme (simply waiting for the war to end) and passivity no longer remain options. The characters in these whimsical films choose to protect those around them, to become unlikely heroes.

Reframing remembrance

Contemporary French cinema and the Second World War

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