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Uranus

Uranus
Movie: Uranus(1991)[tt0100851] After World War II, a small French village struggles to put the war behind as the controlling Communist Party tries to flush out Petain loyalists. The local bar owner, a simple man who likes to write poetry, who only wants to be left alone to do his job, becomes a target for Communist harassment as they try and locate a particular loyalist, and he pushes back. Written byEd Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>
Title Uranus
Release Date 11 October 1991 (UK)
Runtime
Genres Comedy, Drama
Production Companies DD Productions, Films A2, Investimage 2
Michel Blanc
Michel Blanc...
René Gaigneux...
Gérard Depardieu
Gérard Depardieu...
Léopold Lajeunesse...
Jean-Pierre Marielle
Jean-Pierre Marielle...
Archambaud...
Philippe Noiret
Philippe Noiret...
Watrin...
Michel Galabru
Michel Galabru...
Monglat...
Danièle Lebrun
Danièle Lebrun...
Mme Archambaud...
Fabrice Luchini
Fabrice Luchini...
Jourdan...
Daniel Prévost
Daniel Prévost...
Rochard...
Yves Afonso
Yves Afonso...
Le brigadier...
Ticky Holgado
Ticky Holgado...
Mégrin, l'avocat...
Josiane Lévêque
Josiane Lévêque...
Andréa Lajeunesse...

Reviews

robert-temple-1 on 2 January 2017
This is the film which Claude Berri directed immediately after his world-famous pair of films based on Marcel Pagnol stories, JEAN DE FLORETTE (1986) and MANON DES SOURCES (1986). This film is based upon a novel by the well-known French author Marcel Aymé (1902-1967, 59 films having been made between 1934 and 2016 either based upon his works, or incorporating his written contributions to dialogue or scripts). The film contains spectacular bravura performances from both Philippe Noiret and Gerard Depardieu. Anyone interesting in seeing superlative acting by two of France's finest actors need look no further than here. They both have scenes of such shattering force and power that the screen shakes. Noiret's rant is a philosophical one, and is a real tour de force of writing as well as of delivery. This film deals with the tensions of a French village in central France subsequent to the end of World War II. 'Collabos', i.e. collaborators who aided and worked with the occupying Nazis, or who were officials of the ousted Vichy regime, are being rounded up and summarily executed by local committees, some official and some not. For the moment, the Communists are in control of the village, and they are the most bloodthirsty. Many cynical comments are made by the characters about how huge numbers of people not only now claim to have been members of the Resistance, but have actually faked papers and evidence to try to prove it, and thus escape being executed as collabos. In the midst of all this is the naive idealist Leopold, who runs a tavern, played by Depardieu. He is a man of no education who has become obsessed with a love of classic poetry and drama. He keeps quoting from Racine's 17th century drama ANDROMACHE and attempting to write properly scanned lines of original verse to add to it. He is framed by one of the Communists and arrested as a collabo. He has great difficulty extricating himself from this and the inevitable village firing squad. Everyone in the village is ratting on everyone else, except for the character played by Philippe Noiret, who sublimely attempts to ride above all the political passions and insists that there is some good in everybody. Many villagers have been billeted in their neighbours' home temporarily because their houses have been destroyed by bombing raids and they have nowhere else to go. The main square of the village is littered with rubble, and there are ruins of bombed houses everywhere. So high do the passions run that when a train arrives bringing home many young soldiers from prisoner of war camps, who have been absent from home for five years, one of the young men is savagely attacked and beaten in the middle of the welcoming ceremony because he was reputed to have been a collabo inside the POW camp. So everyone is going for everyone else, and it is not a pretty sight as we discover scandal after scandal about the villagers. Eventually we realize that the police have been 'bought' by a collabo profiteer, so that they will jail or kill anyone he wishes. Aymé's story is deeply cynical as an exposé of the corruption, hypocrisy, and viciousness of French villages, and we are shown just how horrible it is trying to get back to normal after years of occupation by a ruthless foreign power, when half the population have been collaborating with the oppressive invaders. As for the human stories in this film, they are as full of tragedy, irony, and hypocrisy as one could possibly imagine. The film is so well made that it is compulsive viewing, but it reveals much about human nature that most of us wish we did not have to know. And it is a sad, sad history lesson indeed. As for the involvement of Uranus in all this, it is as follows. Philippe Noiret was reading one night in his home when the bombers came and destroyed his house, killing his wife. He was saved by resting freakishly on a single beam which did not collapse with the rest of the house. At the time of the raid, he had been reading an astronomy book and was just at the point where he was reading about the dark and gloomy outer planet Uranus. Subsequently, he has had repeated nightmares about the bombing raid mixed with visions of Uranus, so that he became haunted by the gloomy planet, and it became to him the symbol of all that was wrong and horrible in life. This film is trying to tell the French people that Uranus can still haunt them if they do not come to terms properly with all the horrors of the War, the Occupation, the collabos, and the subsequent illegal and rough justice meted out by what were nothing less than politicised vigilante gangs, who were often bribed by corrupt criminals. And lest anyone think these subjects are exaggerated, let me remind everyone of the most famous Vichy official to successfully pose as a Resistance supporter after the War, and who thus fraudulently gained the adulation of the French public and became elected President of the Republic. His name was Francois Mitterand, and when the truth about him finally came out, we all learned that he had been the greatest hypocrite of them all.

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