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Film: Lacombe, Lucien

Lacombe, Lucien is a 1974 French film directed by Louis Malle. Lucien Lacombe is a 17-year-old boy living in southwest France in June 1944, four years after the French surrender and just days after the Allied landing on the north coast. Lucien, a farmboy currently working as a janitor, approaches the local Resistance leader and asks to join. The leader, Lucien's old schoolteacher, rejects him on the grounds that he's too young (and probably also because he's obviously not serious). Lucien then betrays him to the Gestapo, purely out of spite. He then gets a job with the Milice (the Vichy France version of the Gestapo) instead. Lucien takes pleasure in the new power that his status as a Gestapo thug gives him. He gets a new suit for free from the local tailor, Mr. Horn, and takes an interest in Horn's pretty daughter, France—both of whom are Jews.


Tropes:

  • The Bully: Lucien takes a mean, petty pleasure in pushing people around after he gets a job with the Milice.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Milice torture captured Resistance fighters for information.
  • Dies Wide Open: The actress and most everybody at Milice HQ after they are massacred by La Résistance.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Lucien, lording his influence over the Horns and attempting to impress him, breaks out champagne. Grandma Horn pours her drink down the sink when Lucien's back is turned.
  • Entitled to Have You: Lucien doesn't say this, but his whole attitude around France clearly indicates this.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the first scene, Lucien is mopping floors at the hospital. A songbird lands in a tree outside the window and starts singing. Lucien pulls out a slingshot and kills the bird.
  • For the Evulz: Apparently why Lucien decides to turn his teacher in to the Milice.
  • Greedy Jew: One of the collaborators says of the Allies that "I don't want to be liberated by the Rothschild bank."
  • Idiot Ball: When does Lucien decide to throw his lot in with Vichy and the Nazis? June 1944, that's when.
  • La Résistance: They reject Lucien's application. Later a group of them raid Milice HQ and kill almost all of the collaborators Lucien has been working with.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Lucien joins them.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Horn's daughter, who develops feelings for Lucien in spite of herself, is named "France".
  • Propaganda Machine: Posters everywhere, pro-Petain and anti-Allies radio broadcasts. The French radio gives a very pro-German account of the fighting in Normandy.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Happens with France, who develops real feelings for Lucien. Her feelings are still mixed, though. In one scene she's cavorting with Lucien in an attic, followed by noisy sex. In the next scene she's contemplating whether or not to hit him in the head with a rock.
  • Title Drop: Lucien gets so caught up in militarism and police bureaucracy that he introduces himself to the Horns formally, with his last name first, as if reporting to an officer.
  • World War II
  • Villain Protagonist: A sullen teen who joins the Gestapo.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Mr. Horn? When the Gestapo comes to take the Horns away, he's nowhere to be seen.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The film ends with some captions explaining that Lucien was arrested and executed in October 1944.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Lucien's mother is carrying on an affair with a lodger at the farm. Lucien's father has been a POW since 1940.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Lucien is too dumb to figure this out, even when the maid at Milice HQ tells him this directly. Some of the Vichyites he falls in with are in denial, but others have figured it out. One man at the HQ nervously listens to The BBC and asks if anyone can understand English. An aspiring actress that hangs out at HQ reveals that she and her boyfriend are trying to collect money to get away to Spain.

Joyeux NoëlFrench FilmsLast Year at Marienbad
La Grande VadrouilleWorks Set in World War IILe Vieux Fusil
It Lives by NightFilms of the 1970sThe Longest Yard
KwaidanCreator/The Criterion CollectionThe Lady Eve

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