Entertainment » Movies

Line Of Demarcation

by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 25, 2020
Line Of Demarcation

I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to Claude Chabrol's career, so please forgive me as I'm learning about the director on the fly. "Line of Demarcation," his 1966 drama set in a small town in 1941 that's divided between Nazi-occupied territory and the Free Zone, is a stagey thriller that struggles to find its footing as it flits between multiple characters and storylines. What I was quite taken by, while watching the film, was how Chabrol studies this community of French resistance fighters. Rather than thrust them into action, the story takes great care to detail their internal struggles and watch them all lash out in one way or another.

That may read like praise, but that bit of intelligence is spread thin over the course of two hours. The storylines don't really intercut with each other in a way that really helps the overarching narrative. And even though the new 4K restoration looks terrific, this may just be a dud in Chabrol's career that only offers brief glimpses into his skill as a filmmaker. There's a great commentary with film critic Samm Deighan on the Blu-ray that I'm sure Chabrol fans or those interested in the director's career will enjoy.

Pierre (Maurice Ronet) is a demobilized French military officer who has just returned home to his border town to find it occupied by Germans. His wife (Jean Seberg) and the town's citizens have banded together to help escaped prisoners reach the Free Zone away from Nazi control. Naturally, the Nazis are hot on their trail and want to reassert their control over the area.

The high-contrast black and white cinematography in "Line of Demarcation" is rich and beautiful, which complements Chabrol's own depiction of the moral gray area that all of the characters exist in. None of them are completely good nor bad; they're just fighting for their freedom. In contrast to other famous WWII thrillers, this one has a story that's really terrific in its detraction from common themes. This group of resistance fighters isn't indicative of how the rest of France felt during Nazi occupation. They're a small minority working under the guise of everyday occupations. The few moments of visual poetry that we see in the film, like a scene in which two men are forced out to sea in an attempt to escape Nazi rule, do more to detail the despair instilled by Nazism. I only recommend this one if you're a Chabrol completist.

"Line of Demarcation"
Kino Lorber Blu-ray


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