Film (1981). NEF-Diffusion/Stella/Antenne 2/Gibe/Telecip. Directed by Christian de Chalonge. Written by de Chalonge, Pierre Dumayet, based on Malevil (1972; trans 1974) by Robert Merle. Cast includes Robert Dhéry, Jacques Dutronc, Michel Serrault, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Jacques Villeret. 119 minutes. Colour.
This moderately lavish Franco-German Post-Holocaust movie reinforces the sentimental aspects of its good source novel. The Bomb goes off while the vintage is being tasted deep in the wine cellar of an aristocrat's château. The first half is gripping, as the survivors wonder when, if ever, they will be able to leave the well-stocked cellar again, and the first glimpses of the devastated landscape outside are powerful. But then a simplistic clash between the aristocrat's lovably feudal paternalism and the totalitarianism of a local boss (he too has a gang of survivors) reduces the film to something more routine, all done with little verve and rather too much symbolism about life reasserting itself. At the end the new society, whose medieval nature is approved by the film, is threatened, ironically, by the somewhat late arrival of a relief helicopter. [PN]
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