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  • Le Combat dans l'île is a political film about a right-wing reactionary, the racist Clément played by Jean-Louis Trintignant; his childhood friend Paul (Henri Serre), left-wing printer; and love interest Anne (Romy Schneider).

    Clément and Anne are in a rut, she an ex-actress, now a kept woman, he a son of a wealthy industrialist, very serious and eager to kill lefty politicians. She likes to pass herself around, wedding ring or no, he treats her as if she were personal property, they are deserving of one another.

    Anne's slatternly behaviour appears to be foreplay for unhealthy sex as Clément physically abuses her and she submits. Trintignant is not really up to the part, not in the mindset of the character, but Schneider really wows. You can almost sense cinematographer Lhomme's enthusiasm as he follows her around as she pelts the camera with daisies, under her spell. That is the meat of the movie, images of Romy Schneider, for more after this fashion see her in L'enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot, a documentary of footage from an extremely ambitious Clouzot production that didn't get off the ground assembled recently by Serge Bromberg. L'enfer is the concept of fascination with Romy Schneider taken to ruinous extremes.

    These early scenes are accompanied by an ominous and weary soundtrack, which was very noirish. I would have been perfectly content for the movie to continue in this manner and end badly, but the scriptwriters went for the political angle, and turned this into a bildungsroman of sorts. That is to say the movie becomes about Anne's growth and she redeems herself under the wing of Paul.

    This second half of the movie is dissatisfying, firstly in that it becomes propagandish, Clément is shown as being part of a shady international network of fascists holding old grudges, whereas of course Paul lives the simple life. Clément's communist equivalents were just as militant and obscure, but the movie doesn't show this. The element of personal growth here is also not very satisfying, generally in the bildungsroman form you get personal growth being achieved only by painstaking efforts, Anne here is doing little more than bedhopping and having a nice stay in the country on Paul's tab.

    The action sequence at the end of the film (which the title refers to) is handled with an absolute minimum of suspense and is bizarrely anticlimactic, even it's mere existence didn't seem in keeping with the rest of the film, as if director and scriptwriter couldn't get straight what type of story they were telling.
  • In a France frightened by the rise of the far right a couple of weeks ago ,"le combat dans l'ile" seen today has a contemporary feel.The hero,Clément,played with talent by a deadpan Jean-Louis Trintignant,is a rich young man,who severs all links with his family ,except his wife Anne (Romy Schneider)and becomes part of an extremist group,which recalls the O.A.S..Their short-sighted philosophy considers that Occident is in jeopardy because of the socialists and the commies and they multiply the assassination attempts.Betrayed by his instructor,Serge takes refuge in his old friend Paul's house (Henri Serre),a socialist and a pacifist.

    Shot in black and white ,with beautiful forest landscapes,this is an overlooked movie.Overshadowed by the new wave movies that were released by the dozen at the time,it could not appeal to the "conventional" audience either.Its slow pace,its rather risqué subject may have repelled most of the people.But it's about time to restore it to public favor.The story may be a fight between two men for a woman;but it is also the clash between two ideologies.

    It proves that Romy Schneider was a great actress well before her heyday in the seventies:here,she definitively relinquishes her former insipid roles,the likes of Sissi to a modern woman.Henri Serre,who was Jim in Truffaut's "jules and Jim" gives a heartfelt and sensitive performance.Too bad he fell into oblivion soon after it.

    Alain Cavalier started strongly with "le combat dans l'île" ,continued in the same vein with "l'insoumis" (1964)(starring Alain Delon and Léa Massari),but was disappointing afterward.Only "un étrange voyage" (1980) and "le plein de super"(1975)

    are interesting.But "Therèse" redeemed him !
  • The only weak point of the casting is Romy Schneider who is slightly over-acting. Beautiful B&W camera work and music. Directing work is directly influenced by Robert Bresson (LES DAMES DU BOIS DE BOULOGNE ; UN CONDAMNE A MORT S'EST ECHAPPÉ) & Louis Malle (ASCENSEUR POUR L'ÉCHAFAUD ; LE FEU FOLLET) : distant, "fire under the ice" style, sharp, precise, contained. The story is quite intelligent (an right-wing anti-communist idealist militant betrayed by his chief after a political assassination attempt + love story in which Romy Schneider is torn apart between him and his left-wing childhood friend : they will "fight in the island" to death, using Walther P-38 pistols) and time treatment managed by the editing work is superior art. One of the best movies made in France by the 1960's but it is necessary, when screening it, to not miss one sequence, even a short one, in order to be able to enjoy the subtle atmosphere construction. To be fully understood, this movie requires you to be aware of the political situation of France at that time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For Alain Cavalier's first film, he turned to a very interesting story of politics and violent action. Godard had already made Le Petit soldat a short time before, and the street violence that accompanied the Algerian war was on everyone's mind. Clément is a spoiled little boy in a man's body, with a rich father who is impatient with his son's immature actions. Anne is a glamorous would-be actress who has had enough time to understand that she made a bad choice of husband in Clément. Paul is the one uninteresting character, a Boy Scout who runs a print shop and has left-wing ideals.

    Trintignant is a little inexperienced in 1961; he would go on to make The Conformist with Bertolucci, which is the definitive statement on the broken souls who made fascism so powerful in Europe. Sometimes he struggles to make Clément's bigotry and warped machismo effective. Romy Schneider seems never to put a foot wrong in her movies; she was a natural talent and her directors let her roam around in her characters. As Anne, she has a verve and spontaneity that are delightful to see. Finally, there is Pierre Asso as Serge, the veteran terrorist who assists Clement on his first kill; he has a face that is thin, mournful and somehow terrifying. A wonderful performance.
  • This first feature film directed by Alain Cavalier is an atmospheric brooder. The plot is not entirely convincing, but the main motivations for making the film seem to have been to explore political extremism, social paranoia, and mood for its own sake. The film was made in the immediate aftermath of the Coup d'Alger of April, 1961, namely the rebellion against de Gaulle's Government headed by General Raoul Salan, the French military chief in Algeria, and his three co-conspirators. The plan was to have included a coup in Paris itself, but that did not come off. France was seriously spooked by this right-wing conspiracy which nearly succeeded. So this film is drenched in the atmosphere of paranoia prevalent at that moment in French society. France has always had its terrorists of all kinds, and the right wing ones have been as sinister as those of the far left. In this film, we see a small group of elegant, rich young bourgeois men who have decided to save their country from communism. At least that's what they think. And like all political extremists, the means always justify the end, so they are free to commit any crime, murder being their favourite. They meet twice a month for weapons and combat training in the countryside, gleefully firing their machine guns at symbolic enemies, with crazed grins on their faces. One of these young men is played by the youthful Jean-Louis Trintignant, a grim, humourless fanatic who beats up his wife. The conspirators at one point sing a Petainist song, and are clearly survivors of the Vichy mentality, only even more extreme. When Trintignant goes to South America, he boasts of having met exiled Germans who were kind to him (get it?) and says that as he moved from city to city, starting in Buenos Aires, he was always fed and given money and new passports by the endless network of sympathisers there. So we get the picture. Trintignant is married to Romy Schneider, who gives a marvellously rounded and inspired performance as a woman who clings to her persecutor and keeps returning to be beaten up again. But eventually she snaps when a baby's life is at stake rather than just her own. When Schneider realizes that her husband has attempted to assassinate a member of the National Assembly (or Senate, it's not clear which) by firing a bazooka at his flat from a rooftop, she does not desert him, a typical behaviour of the willingly enslaved masochistic woman. Despite her obvious psychological disturbance, Schneider is always laughing and exceedingly carefree in her manner, flirting and enjoying herself, so that the performance is really far from one-dimensional. Trintignant's best friend from his youth is a left-wing pacifist printer, played with convincing languor by Henry Serre. When Trintignant and Schneider seek shelter with him at a beautiful old mill deep in the countryside, the psychological complexities multiply. Serre and Schneider eventually become an item while Trintignant is off killing someone. This does not go down well with Trintignant, who simply cannot see the funny side, so he challenges Serre to a duel. Serre thinks this is some kind of joke, but even by now Serre has failed to realize that Trintignant does not joke. Eventually this leads to a life and death struggle on a small river island (a holm), which is what gives this film its original French title, LE COMBAT DANS L'ILE, which means THE FIGHT ON THE ISLAND, though the English language title is FIRE AND ICE, whatever that means. Naturally I cannot say what happens at the end. A sombre and intense mood is sustained throughout this film, so it is really more of a 'mood piece' than a story. But it is a mood piece which evokes a moment in time in France and gives us an insight into the fears which haunted people then. Many of the interiors of buildings in Paris glimpsed in this film are seen to be shabby, still not fixed up since the German Occupation. Indeed, the ghost of the Nazi presence seems still to be there, as the spawn of the Nazis go about their evil work. And we are left wondering about women like the character played by Schneider: what makes them tick? Or is their ticking really that of a time-bomb of self-destruction? This film poses questions of a psychological, moral, and political nature which are uncomfortable and will probably never be resolved as long as there are humans and human societies. There is always a dark side, and here we see some of it up close.
  • As a winter of discontent ends in Paris, militaristic Jean-Louis Trintignant (as Clement Lesser) plans to assassinate a unionist politician. When his clandestine "hunting club" fails to achieve success, Mr. Trintignant must hide from authorities. He and alluring wife Romy Schneider (as Anne) take refuge with Trintignant's childhood chum Henri Serre (as Paul). Trintignant leaves to square things with former cohort Pierre Asso (as Serge) while Ms. Schneider resumes her (stage) acting career. Absent her husband, Schneider falls into Mr. Serre's bed. Then, Trintignant returns and wants to get combative...

    This was the first feature from director Alain Cavalier, here assisted by Louis Malle. The leading men are meant to represent two extreme sides of the political aisle - commonly called right-wing (tending toward fascism in the extreme) and left-wing (tending toward communism in the extreme). Unfortunately, the film does not relay much of the men's friendship; we do not care that they become rivals. Most interesting is the relationship between Trintignant and Schneider, which may border (at least) on sadomasochism. There is good black-and-white photography by Pierre Lhomme, especially the location scenes.

    ****** Le combat dans l'ile (8/17/62) Alain Cavalier ~ Romy Schneider, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Henri Serre, Pierre Asso
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For a film with a sloppy script this isn't too hard to take. A lot of that, of course, is down to Romy Schneider, just one of so many European(Austrian in this case) beauties who are also consummate actresses. Essentially it is a clash of ciphers, the fanatical fascist versus the peace-loving printer, with Schneider on offer after the Best Out Of Three tussles. What is never explained is 1) how Trintignant and Schneider ever got together, 2) what turned the affluent Trintignant into a raving fascist, 3) why Trintignant and Serre would ever have been friends and 4) this is the most in need of an answer; why did Serge betray his comrades. The acting is fine as is the black and white photography and for a film released at a time when the new wavelet was in full spate it is surprisingly likable.
  • 'New Wave, 'Neo-Noir', 'political thriller' or 'romantic melodrama'? Whatever label one choses to attach to this film it represents a highly assured directorial debut by Alain Cavalier. By all accounts it was made 'under the supervision' of Louis Malle although how much influence he exerted and to what extent he contributed is impossible to establish. Cavalier's next film, the brilliant 'L'Insoumi', used as a backdrop the Algerian War of Independence. In the film under review this conflict is neither mentioned nor alluded to but the leading character Clement belongs to an extremist right-wing organisation which one assumes is a reference to the OAS that was formed just one year earlier in an attempt to foil Algerian self-determination. After having failed in an attempt to bump off a left-wing politician Clement realises he has been betrayed and is nominated by other members of his group to track the traitor to South America and kill him. His wife Anne, with whom he has a volatile and rather violent relationship, tells him that if he goes she never wishes to see him again. In his absence she falls in love with and is pregnant by Paul, a lifelong friend of Clement. When Clement returns and hears the news he challenges Paul to a duel........ This was a good phase for Henri Serre who plays Paul as 'Jules et Jim' was released the previous year. He had a minor role in Malle's 'Le Feu Follet' the following year but it is hard to find any film thereafter as effective which is a pity. Jean-Louis Trintignant, one of France's greatest living actors, brings his own air of mystery and unpredictability to the part of Clement. It is not too fanciful I am sure to connect this role with that of the fascist Marcello in Bertolucci's 'Il Conformista' eight years later. The film really belongs to Romy Schneider as Anne. At first she appears to be the passive wife and little more than the obligatory 'love interest' but her character develops strongly and becomes the driving force. Her qualities as an actress are manifold and of course the camera absolutely adores her. The next few years provided nothing comparable but her career was revitalised by 'Les Choses de ma Vie' for Claude Sautet. Excellent script by Cavalier and Jean-Paul Rappeneau with gorgeous, grainy cinematography by the masterful Pierre L'Homme. Cavalier maintains a 'lento' rhythm throughout which allows the characters to breathe whilst never allowing the momentum to slacken. If you liked this, you will love 'L'Insoumi'.
  • As Cavalier's debut not despicable picture mixing political issues and dramatic tragic drama, in a slow pace by the way, the story should be concise, offer more practicality instead some useful boring sequences, though don't expect see an eloquent Romy Schneider, she plays Anne a disturbed girl, going to nowhere, Trintignant plays Clement a rich son of great French industrialist who makes part of a right-wind terrorist cell, cover up by Hunting private club leading by a veteran terrorist Serge (Pierre Asso) they target are left-wing politicians and reds, they first target is a famous politician that end up in a flop, Clement is betrayed by Serge, meanwhile he and Anne hidden at Paul's house, (Henri Serre) actually a blood brothers when they were teenagers, Clement decides chase Serge to kill him, Anne stays there for a while, although both in absolute aloneness will getting closing each other, Clement finds Serge in a faraway Argentina, got his revenge and get back, now faces the unexpected truth, Anne is pregnancy of Paul, spurned Clement demands a duel at Island at river Senne, according Clement Paul broken the pact made on their childhood, dispersive the picture seems lost the central point often, overall a decent presentation!!!

    Resume:

    First watch: 2020 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.25
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although Alain Cavalier's Fire and Ice (1962) was not released in the USA until June, 2009, the somewhat faulty (the first reel is badly out of sync) C'est La Vie DVD has been available for years.

    This movie seems to have excited both passionate admirers and detractors.

    My own view straddles these two extremes. In my opinion, the movie's main problem lies in Jean-Louis Trintignant's Clément. He is such a glumly foolish, icily self-centered and neurotically unattractive young man that all our sympathies lie with the other characters.

    Even the traitorous Serge, well-played by Pierre Asso, is more involving.

    Fortunately, it is the quick-silvered Anne (passionately played by Romy Schneider) who receives the most attention from writer and director, although Trintignant comes in a good second, with dull if competent Henri Serre trailing along third.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I went to see this yesterday at The Film Forum, and based on what I had read in the Ny Times, I was expecting a minor masterpiece. What I got was a nice nap. the plot, such as it is, is confusing at best. The first 3rd is a political thriller about a potential assassination and starring Romy Schneider and Jean-Louis Trintignant. The rest of the movie is a love story between Romy Schneider and Henri Serre (who plays Jean-Louis' brother). The political part has nothing to do with the romance, except as an excuse to get Jean-Louis out of the picture for the romance. WHen he re-enters the picture, he and his brother have a duel, because, as his brother points out, he is apparently 12 years old (emotionally). Boring, badly written, badly edited, and atrociously acted.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite some interesting situations, this film is curiously uninvolving. I think a lot of it is because there is so little emotion in the characters. Additionally, many of the action scenes are awfully detached. It's not a bad film...but one that SHOULD have been more exciting.

    The film begins with Clement (Jean-Louis Trintignant) behaving like a jerk towards his lovely wife, Anne (Romy Schneider). Through the rest of the film, you'll find Clement detestable...a real jerk! Later, Anne and her housekeeper find a hidden package in the flat--a bazooka! Now you'd THINK Anne would call the police. Instead, she just asks her husband about it. It turns out he's a member of a right-wing extremist group* and he tells her to tell no one...and she doesn't! Later, after an unsuccessful assassination attempt, Clement is on the run and takes Anne with him. Why Anne goes is a bit vague...but she does go. They stay at an old friend's house in the country. Paul is NOT an extremist nut and has no idea what Clement has done. Later, when he learns, he tells Clement to leave and he does...leaving the sick Anne behind. During the time he is gone into hiding again, Paul and Anne fall in love and Anne creates a new life for herself. However, when the evil Clement returns, she tells him...and his very fragile ego cannot handle it. What's next for this sociopath and his odd wife?

    So why do I only give this film a 5? Well, a lot of it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Why does Anne put up with Clement? You could argue she's abused and scared of him. But then why would she enrage this wanted man by telling him she and Paul are lovers? It isn't like he's NOT a violent man! And, when Clement comes after Paul, why doesn't Paul go to the police?! Again, Clement is a sociopath...and a very dangerous one...so why keep these threats to yourself?! It just didn't seem convincing and took an interesting basic idea and made the least of it.