THE LAST TRAIN (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1973)

Based on the 1965 novel by Georges Simenon, Pierre Granier-Deferre’s Le train is an exceptionally powerful extramarital love story beginning in May 1940 during the German invasion of France. Attempting with countless others to flee the Germans, radio repairman Julien Maroyeur (Jean-Louis Trintignant, excellent) is in a freight car of “the last train,” where he meets, bonds and eventually makes love with Anna Kupfer, a German Jew, while his nine-month-pregnant wife, somewhat glibly also named Anna, and their young daughter, are in a passenger car. Held for the duration of an extra heartbeat, the subjective shot showing Julien’s first glimpse of Anna Kupfer, who is on the floor of the “cattle car” in the dark, persuasively communicates two things: that Julien will indeed fall in love with this almost painfully beautiful woman; and why he could scarcely do otherwise. Among other things, Anna is intensely mysterious, her long-held silence encapsulating her mysteriousness, which—pardon; I don’t know how else to express this—corrects the mundaneness of Julien’s life thus far, in effect completing the upheaval of this life that the invasion and his flight from near the Belgian border began. In La Rochelle, while his wife is at hospital giving birth to their son, Julien identifies the other Anna as his wife in order to protect her, in answer to the silent plea in her eyes. While he momentarily leaves her to find out about his wife, Anna Kupfer slips away. Three years later, she reappears as a captured Resistance fighter in an office of the French police, an extension by this time of the Gestapo. Will the summoned Julien acknowledge his connection to this woman at the cost of his life?
     Romy Schneider brilliantly plays Anna Kupfer, who is both strong and heartbreaking.


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