Post image for DVD Review: A FRENCH VILLAGE/UN VILLAGE FRANÇAIS (Season 6 on MHz Releasing)

by Dale Reynolds on September 3, 2018

in CD-DVD,Film


This extraordinary series continues its exploration of what the average French village went through during the German occupation (1940-45). In the six-episode Season Six, we watch the victors of the War putting on trial some of those who collaborated with the Nazis, in clear and non-hysterical scenes. One of the more important members of this (fictional) village of Villaneuve, in the eastern department of France, very near the Swiss border, is the doctor and former mayor, Daniel Larcher (Robin Renucci), who had saved some Jews from being sent to German concentration camps, and had secretly sabotaged more German activities, but in his defense was forced to work with or for the German army in order to survive. Another defendant, in the dock alongside Dr. Larger, is a sensible bureaucrat, M. Servier (Cyril Couton), a man not of evil intent, but one who also buckled under the threats of the Gestapo overlords, under the supervision of their evil leader, Heinrich Muller (brilliantly played by smarmy Richard Sammel), who ends up not being punished because of as he is of post-war use to the American army.

Over half of the characters we met in Season One are still alive and kicking, including one of the young heroes of the Resistance, Antoine (Martin Loizillon), and the young wife of the school principal-now mayor of Villaneuve, Lucienne (Marie Kremer), who has serious psychological regrets over the murder of her German soldier lover by her loathed husband, Bériot (François Loriquet), and an exploration in lesbian sex, has life-threatening impulses.

Other storylines concentrate on the burgeoning Communist presence in the area, at odds with the victorious General Charles de Galle’s political party; of the fifteen-year-old Gustave (Maxim Driesen), son of a martyred Resistance leader and his mother, the courageous Suzanne (Constance Dollé), who recklessly assassinates a corrupt American soldier, and his fledgling romance with a another girl in the village. Also on board is the collaborator/resistance owner of the lumber yard, Raymond Schwartz (Thierry Godard), who is being groomed to be the next mayor by the more unsavory financial leaders in the town.

This leaves the mentally unstable Hortense (a stunning Audrey Fleurot), former wife of Schwartz and a despised mistress of the Gestapo Commandant, Heinrich, to wonder what will become of herself in this post-war hostile terrain.

What is thoroughly fascinating about this show is how much the individual dramas are neither sanitized or exploited – no melodrama here, just human nature in full display. The villains are fairly clear as to motive, as greed and fear helps make many of them live in full survival mode. The fellows of the Resistance, some active Communists, are applauded by the populace without knowing the hidden costs of their fight, both physically and emotionally.

The writing, direction and cinematography combine to push this show to greatness – I suspect none (or few of us at least) know the full extent of what happened in other countries when this world fight for freedom was occurring. So we may be grateful that there is one last season (#7) for us to indulge ourselves in great story-telling.

The creator/producers, Frédéric Krivine, Emmanuel Daucé and Philippe Triboit, worked diligently to make this incredible series so fascinatingly profound, and we are the better off for knowing it.

A French Village / Un village français
Season Six
released February 21, 2017
3 DVD set | 351 minutes
available at MHz Releasing or Amazon

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