What War May Bring

Audrey Dana in What War May Bring

 

A movie for every day of the year – a good one

 

 

31 December

 

 

President Truman declares the Second World War over, 1946

On this day in 1946, the US President declared that hostilities had come to an end in the Second World War. Whether this means that the war itself ended on that day depends on your terms. The war in Europe ended on VE day (8 May 1945). Some suggest that the war ended with the defeat of Japan and the signing of an armistice, with VJ day (14 August 1945). Still others reckon the war can’t be termed over until the signing of the peace treaty with Japan (1951). And yet other more legalistic souls that the war with Germany couldn’t end until Germany was re-unified (1990). However, officially, according to Presidential Proclamation 2714, signed on 31 December 1946, this was the day that the war ended, that the state of war against Germany and Japan was lifted. So if you are an American who served in the Army only during 1946, you are considered a World War II veteran.

 

 

 

What War May Bring (2010, dir: Claude Lelouch)

Anyone for a meta war film? Sly old dog Claude Lelouch is completely in control of his material in this Second World War movie that looks like it was made back then, but clearly wasn’t. An attempt to sum up all WWII films, and choreograph them into some coherent whole, and to offer some cultural perspective on the whole thing, it’s a stop-start affair, a flashback film telling the story of a woman in the dock for killing her rich husband. Back we go to the 1920s and meet this Jewish girl’s family. Forward we go into the War itself, when Ilva (Audrey Dana) is simultaneously having hot sex with a Nazi and being part of the Resistance. The Americans arrive and Ilva falls in love with two GIs at the same time. We go forwards again, and end up in the 1960s, where a character like Claude Lelouch himself appears, films are being produced, the past is being junked and the future being made. If I’m sounding vague it’s because this is a weird pudding of a film. But wade in, to mix the metaphor, something Lelouch isn’t averse to doing (wading and mixing), and there is so much to enjoy as the old master plays out pastiches of Kubrick and Spielberg, and there’s even a nod to Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. To reduce a film that is all about what war may bring to a simple concentrate, the film’s message is that war is complicated, messy, and we have not been culturally equipped by life in peacetime to get a handle on it. Great selfless heroism one second can be followed by awful selfishness the next. You can love a Nazi and the Resistance. Two GIs simultaneously. War destroys and it creates – it created the peace-loving 1960s. But to reduce this wonderful, amazing film to its message is to miss its point a bit. It is a great piece of cultural sleight of hand, with Lelouch and long-time collaborator Pierre Uytterhoeven spinning this huge long storyline about Ilva together with another, about the cultural portrayal of the war. Until finally, in the third act, he starts to pull it all together, in a “here’s kind of where we are now, and here’s where I fit in” manoeuvre. It is hugely ambitious, hugely epic, yet at the same time it’s working to undercut the tropes of the epic (bad Nazis, brave resistance fighters, love, honour). It’s an old man’s film, a farewell in many respects – Here’s where I came in. Here’s what I made of what I was dealt. Time will reduce all of it to nothing. Maybe love will endure. Maybe not. Here, you tell me what you think. A masterpiece.

 

 

Why Watch?

 

  • It’s not his final film, but this is a farewell by a master
  • Audrey Dana, beautiful and talented
  • Lelouch asks whether, after all this time, we can separate the war from the myth-making surrounding it. Can we?
  • One of the directors of the French New Wave generation still making vital work

 

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

 

What War May Bring – at Amazon

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “What War May Bring”

  1. MERCI

    Thank you Monsieur Lelouch!

    France and the U.S.A. are my "homelands", but when I watch Monsieur Lelouche's films, I am proud of being….simply human.

    In my humble opinion, his films have a rare profoundness that makes them transcend beyond all standards of culture, figures of style….they dig deeply into the core of the human soul.

    I am no film critic; my appreciations do not concern the technical aspect of his films, I will leave this ungrateful task to others, those who earn a living in a way I am glad I don't.

    I will just say that a film by Lelouch encompasses much more than film making techniques and effects. A film by Lelouch is Poetry, Music, History accounts and travels of many kinds: travels in time, places and, most of all, within our soul.

    This film is a beautifully scorching experience. It hurts to be human.

    One key word comes to mind : Love: the catalyst of Life. Love of every form and degree.

    The full array of human emotions are always present in Monsieur Lelouche's films. The seemingly "evil" in us, the "worst" in humanity can be transformed.

    Often unnoticed details, short moments, may very well have a powerful impact on a person's destiny.

    Life in cycles, the great story that never ends.

    We come to this world and…

    …we love, we hate, we suffer, we doubt, we hope, we despair, we sin, we forgive, we win, we lose, we learn, we love again…

    as the great Tennyson wrote : " 'tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all"

    I would like to thank Monsieur Lelouch for being who he is: a great poet!

    The world is so fortunate to have him….

  2. This film can leave one simultaneously with a feeling of exhilaration and exhausted to the point of tears! Seldom have I gone to a movie with expectations as high as this one to satisfied without even being asked,and I watch up to ten a week! The five stories,based on true events in the life of Mr. LeLouch,are interwoven into a story of epic proportion with scenes shot in the very spots where they happened. What could have been old stories of the 'war years' retold were given to us instead with a gut-wrenching, joyously vibrant story of love and betrayal usually reserved for those epics of the bygone era of Hollywood. This combined with acting pulled from the souls of basic unknowns ,some of whom begged for the parts,poured off of the screen to wash over the audience with so much more then we have come to expect these days…a true film going experience. See this with an audience on the big screen if you can, if not gather some of your closest friends around you and plenty of wine and tissues. I will only say that I've waited a long time to feel this way about a movie, thanks Mr. L.

  3. Although I'm a huge fan of Lelouch and have seen all of his films, this one was a huge disappointment. Yes I know, there are other rules when you are watching a Lelouch, that you have to see the world like a naive child does. Or like him at the time when he was a child and hidden in a cinema not to be discovered by the Nazis. But this time, nothing fits together. He wanted to create a big fresco, to tell the stories of the 20th century, about a modern woman, about his love of the cinema and about his 50 years of filmmaking. But everything is so overdone, horribly non credible, that it made me tremendously sad and angry. For example he used very much material of his past films, but a lot of it is dispensable and has almost no connection with the plot. All of the concentration camp scenes reached a level of pathos, kitsch and historical in-accurateness, that hasn't been there before even in his films. The peak was the scene where the prisoner was theatrically shot after singing the Charles Trenet song "Que reste-t-il de nos amours". A song that we here ad nauseam over and over again in the film, like the "Lily Marleen" song in Fassbinders film. Another problem is that you don't have any feelings towards the characters because everyone is a kind of cliché and their actions and relationships are badly written of seem only to be there to introduce the next big tracking shot. Even the good actors cannot change that fact. Lelouch wanted to tell us in this film about everything he loves or hates, but here he wasn't able to make fit all parts together. The only good thing in this film is Lelouchs way of filming and how he directs actors. He needs only two people in a room or a café in order to create wonderful, realistic scenes. But although I like his aphorisms very much, he certainly isn't a good screenwriter. In my personal opinion, Lelouch has always been good when he is short on money, like in his last, small and wonderful told film "Roman de Gare". He should concentrate an smaller films instead of trying to explain the universe. Because after all, even after this failure, I like the "Lelouch touch" and his ingenious and fresh way of filmmaking where anything can happen.

  4. Big expectations,big names, promising start and trailer, epic fail.

    Not coherent, not meaningful, absurd and then vulgar, very boring a very unhappy melange of things.

    The lead actress – acceptable but not as good as you might think when reading other reviews. She's…average.

    Very bad chosen twists, poor script, nothing leads you to the conclusion that the director wanted to highlight (I only found details in reading A LOT of press materials.

    The music – although the pieces taken separately might sound nice, is used in a very annoying way.

    Do not, I repeat – do not spend money and most of all time watching this.

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