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Lacombe, Lucien (The Criterion Collection) (1974)

Pierre Blaise , Aurore Clément , Louis Malle  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Pierre Blaise, Aurore Clément, Holger Löwenadler, Therese Giehse, Stéphane Bouy
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Writers: Louis Malle, Patrick Modiano
  • Producers: Louis Malle, Claude Nedjar
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E1YVZ0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,157 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Lacombe, Lucien (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Pauline Kael’s 1974 New Yorker review
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

Editorial Reviews

One of the first French films to address the issue of collaboration during the German Occupation, Louis Malle’s brave and controversial Lacombe, Lucien traces a young peasant’s journey from potential Resistance member to Gestapo recruit. At once the story of a nation and one troubled boy’s horrific coming of age, the film is a disquieting portrait of lost innocence and guilt.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Film With Great Impact May 22, 2006
As LACOMBE LUCIEN begins, you assume you'll like the main character. We find him at work in a nursing home. He decides to take a break from the tedious job of washing the floors, goes to the window to get a glimpse of the sunny day and enjoy the beauty of a small yellow songbird singing in a tree. We then see him reach in his pocket, take out a slingshot, and kill the bird. Later we'll see he does the same with rabbits and chickens. It's the Lucien of the beginning of the film and the one who we still see at the end.

LACOMBE LUCIEN, directed by Louis Malle, is a film that tells the story of Lucien, a troubled young man who appears to have few friends and is not welcome at home. We learn his father is in prison and his mother has taken up with someone else. Though we never learn about the father's absence, it's likely that it has something to do with the war which may be why Lucien seems to want to be a member of the French Resistance. He tries to join, but is rebuffed by a former teacher who believes he's too young and undisciplined. Lucien has an ambivalent reaction to the rebuff and we assume he'll just continue his employment at the nursing home. The action changes when patrons at a hotel capture Lucien's attention. His curiosity gets him in trouble but ends up being an opportunity. He then becomes involved with the police who are in line with the Gestapo.

Pierre Bliase is an excellent Lucien. He's consistent throughout and never gives us a chance to see the character as a lovable ruffian who would be different if is someone cared. Holger Lowenadler plays Albert Horn, a Jewish tailor and the father of Aurore Clement's France, the woman who becomes Lucien's love interest.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evil at its most banal and inadequate June 12, 2006
Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien still impresses, although it does tend to amble in the third act just when you might expect it to tighten its grip. But it's still a casually powerful reminder of the less heroic side of France under Vichy rule (the Nazis are barely seen in the film) as its none too bright farmboy just drifts almost accidentally into collaboration with the German Police made up entirely of his compatriots after being turned down for the Resistance. The film's major achievement is in showing, much like fascism in general, the appeal that collaboration had to the disaffected and the underachieving outsiders in the community (only one of the `police' is a real zealot) and the attraction of undeserved and unearned power as Lucien finds the power he has over people (particularly the unspoken threat of handing his Jewish `girlfriend' - perhaps a little over symbolically called `France' - to the Germans) is far more intoxicating than killing mere animals.

Throughout, as with Melville's resistance masterpiece L'Armee des Ombres, there's a mundane sense of reality that heightens the drama. Set in the kind of small picturesque village that outsiders find idyllic but which is a tedious hell to live in for the locals, it shows how malaise and opportunity is far more of a driving force than malice. Certainly it's far from glamorous, its collaborators hanging round in a local hotel getting drunk and bemoaning their lot as the war news gets continually worse (as one points out, you have to listen to both the German and the British radio reports "and split the difference" to find the truth) and they gradually get picked off by the emboldened locals.

The only extra on Criterion's disc is the imaginative theatrical trailer, so this might be worth picking up in Criterion's boxed set which also includes Au Revoir Les Enfants, Murmur of the Heart and an exclusive disc of extras mainly focussing on Louis Malle rather than the films themselves.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Very interesting film, and technically perfect. It captures the attention from start to finish, although it becomes a little agravating in its middle part because of the inactivity of its main character.

Beautiful exterior locations in the southwest of France during the weeks following the landing in Normandy of the British and American troops. A young country kid, very good at hunting and domestic chores, is rejected by the local teacher and leader of the resistence. Knowing no better he enrolls in the German police and becomes a collaborator. The role of Lucien is played by a non professional, and he does great. His naturalness couldn't be achieved otherwise. But I think the director didn't give him enough lines. Lucien is too quiet -unnaturally quiet-, too inactive. This becomes agravating through the middle section of the film when you wish he would do something, either way good or worse. But the story lingers as it is stuck with the Jewish taylor and his daughter. They seem to be feeling the same as the viewer: "What's up with you? Do something!"

It's almost 2 and a half hours of film, not 70 odd minutes as it says above. Not the best Malle movie (which to me is 'Au revoir les enfants', also during the German occupation of France), but it is a great movie.

It's an excellent study of characters, universal characters. It poses the question whether this simple young kid could be blamed for what he did by those who refused to accept him for the cause of the resistence. But then, who would we blame? If we start forgiving him, we'd end forgiving everyone, then justice would be so relativistic it would have no sense even defending oneself. It would be anarchy, the law of the stronger. Well, this is the kind of debate ir arises, because Lucien is a likable fellow, although simple.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting French drama
The French have a knack of doing an excellent job of character study. I enjoyed the film. And would recommend it to foreign film fans.
Published 4 months ago by J. J. Dennis
4.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Dramatic History
This movie is a fascinating view of occupied France during World War II. For many years after the war (and to a certain extent into the present) people have held a belief that all... Read more
Published 10 months ago by M. Cook
3.0 out of 5 stars The DVD is fine and it is a great movie
Problem is it is not a suitable fromat for Australian PAL. I can play it in my computer but not on my home DVD player which is what I wanted.
Published 15 months ago by Helen Wellings
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and important film.
This is a fascinating character study and a truly memorable film. My only criticism is the abrupt ending. Did the filmmaker run out of money?
Published 22 months ago by Citris1
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Lacombe, Lucien' far and above the quality of most.
LACOMBE,LUCIEN - A coming of age film directed by Luis Malle, the consummate French film director of the 20th century's latter half and beyond, illustrates the banality of evil in... Read more
Published on October 18, 2012 by W S Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars A monumental masterpiece!
After Max Ophuls' The Sorrow and the Pity, Louis Malle decided to go carefully through a website deliberately forgotten by the ethical conscience of France, some, not wanting to... Read more
Published on February 6, 2012 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars Still a beautiful film
I have been looking for this movie ever since I saw it in 1975. Finally found it at Amazon! It is after all these years still a worthwhile movie to watch. Read more
Published on July 12, 2011 by Marieke
5.0 out of 5 stars very happy with DVD and service
Book was in new condition, arrived promptly, well packed, what can I say? what's to complain. I would highly recommend this vendor based on my experience.
Published on September 13, 2010 by Kevin T. Fitzgibbon
5.0 out of 5 stars Louis Malle is one of the very greatest directors; this is one of his...
There has been no greater filmmaker than Louis Malle. At his best, he was as good as Bergman-- perhaps even better-- because he was much less a "dramatist," his technique was more... Read more
Published on August 6, 2010 by trastevere
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exemplary Portrayal of a True Anti-Hero
This is one of the most interesting and challenging films I have seen in a long time. It is a story of a young man, a peasant in the most pejorative sense of the word, who is... Read more
Published on June 3, 2010 by Amazon Customer
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