With special reference to the theme of the trauma of war, the authoress analyses three films of the French director Jean-Pierre Melville: 'The silence of the sea' (Le Silence de la mer), 'Léon Morin, the priest' (Léon Morin, pretre), and 'The army of shadows' ( L'Armée des ombres) portraying the Nazi occupation of France. Melville, best known for his fascination for American cinema, especially with films dealing with crime, was also a war veteran and a member of the French Résistance. This experience allowed him to portray the many possible attitudes that the civilians displayed during the occupation, the hardships and perils of everyday life during the war, as well as the often futile struggle and sacrifice of the members of the Résistance movement. Although the action of his films never takes place on the war front, and the war in Melville's work has a very private character, the director, through his very formal, sparse, bitter and yet unsentimental style, manages to show the full cruelty of war and the extent of the national and human trauma that it produces.
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