Tours of European, English villages touched by World War I leaves many visitors with a deep sense of the scars many communities bore for years afterward, small crossroads towns where 20 young men died, 50… sometimes entire units… often in a single engagement.
Monuments to the fallen are everywhere, in churchyards and random fields, and their presence is sobering. That sense of loss and bitterness over the futile waste of war is captured in “Frantz,” written and directed by François Ozon, which focuses on Anna, a young German woman whose fiance, the titular Frantz, was killed in the trenches during the waning days of the war.
Though Frantz was buried with his comrades in an unmarked grave Anna tends the plot and marker his family have erected in their German village. While tending the grave she is amazed to see a young Frenchman – Adrien – there to do the same. Despite the open hostility the townspeople show a visiting Frenchman Anna is drawn to the handsome and melancholy young man, who regales her with stories of his pre-war friendship with Frantz, and who is evidently carrying scars of his own.
How two bitter enemies come to grips with the deeds done in wartime, and their own attraction to one another, is at the center of “Frantz,” as Ozon’s camera shows us how cities and people were damaged on both sides of No Man’s Land.
Why We Liked It: A story centering on an era of history – the transition period between the World Wars – we’ve always had an interest in, showing us how deeply people can be affected by war and the battles they continue to fight in peacetime.
Quotable Quote: “Don’t you read the papers? The war is over.”
In French and German with English subtitles. Available on Amazon Prime.