La vie et rien d'autre (1989) Script


Keep your back up.

Be careful.

Sit up straight.

Come on, up straight.

I warned you.

I can't hear you.

Not hurt?

I'll hold the horse.


Military hospital 45, please.

Up past the beached skiff.

Thank you.

My brother loved those cars.




No memory?

Name, age, nothing?

Can hardly talk either.

He sings sometimes.

Sings what?


Tantum Ergo, or some filthy limerick.

Put down Tantum Ergo, Trévise.

He could be a priest.

Dirty-minded priests do exist.

I need signs scars, warts, tattoos.

Tantum Ergo's a tattoo of sorts.

You photograph bodies too?

Yes, dead bodies.

The living...

The dead don't move.

The living talk.


That costs money.

Another thrifty guy.

Know what "missing in action" means?


You're the first then.

A guy's maybe living or dead, or half-and-half, meaning deaf, blind, legless, amnesiac... like your friend there.

Or a deserter.

And I get 'em all.

So I take photos.

File them.

Snoop about.

And sometimes I put a name on a face, or vice versa.

That makes one less.

Walking down from Nantes from Nantes to Montaigu Hi-diddle-dum!


He sang that one?

Think so.

I met a fair lass Who slept quite bare-assed Excuse me.

Quite bare-assed...

What, dammit!

I said Excuse me.

Can't you knock?

I did, on 10 doors.

Knock on 11.

Knock till... somebody answers.

Definitely a priest.

Dr Mortier, please.

There's no sign.

Ask at the office.

But where is it?

Madame de Oourtil?

Dr. Mortier sent me.

Stretch your left leg.

We have somebody who fits your description.

Don't get your hopes up.

I'm used to it.

You've been here?

No, but in Vittel, Biarritz, all over.

Of course.

My father-in-law met the doctor at the Senate last month.

The heads are shaved-scalp disease.

Changes their looks.

Here we are.

There's a resemblance.

Have him stand.

Too tall.

Men grow after 20.

My husband would be 34.

Illness lengthens them.

He just wanted to touch you.

He's harmless.

Show me the others.

Even Napoléon scored less.

Not even a million dead in twenty years.

And we scored 1, 500,000 in four years.

Fourteen to eighteen. Four years!

Maybe even more.

You'll say some journalist made it up.

But it's in print.


France paid the highest toll: An eloquent record."

The Huns took us for idiots!

But we hold the record!

All clean.

You're dry at least.

I'll be on my way.

We'll call you.


One more!

Sorry, dear lady, that's the last of my leftovers.

I'll give you a note for my friend Favradanne at the Vétrille Center for aphasia.

Thank you.

It's nothing at all.

I admire the Senator.

My respects.

Let's see the lung cases.

And the gas victims? Two dead this week.


It's calming down.

Snubbing me, Simone?

Not home in Reims?

I'm a flighty fellow.

You're thinning down.


Find what you wanted, Madam?

Yes, thanks.

If I can help...

You at least stopped singing.

Those are hospital dead.

Even Germans and Arabs.

We treat everybody.

Crosses. Names.

I know how it's done.

Oh, yeah? Yes, madame.

With the mouth. Oh, good.

Put that in the bar, on the double.

At last!

My bicycle chain keeps breaking.

The general's here and the shit's hit the fan.


Petitions, articles, Senate speeches.

But you're oblivious.

Only your statistics count, your hotchpotch... you give no signs of life.

You're never around, Major...

Not on the 24th...

A field mission, sir.

And the 29th? Another one.

I've cornered you now.

I need an unknown soldier.

You're the man.

No, General, I've done twenty missions - no unknowns.

My mission's to find and identify... Yes, FIND!

Military dead... or missing.

Up your alley!

Perrin, your opinion?

"In each military zone..."

"exhumation of an unidentified French soldier".

It's clear, dammit!




Your department!

I won't pick a body to learn its name a week later.

But you haven't managed in 2 years.

I have countless investigators...

Hundreds of questionnaires out... which may return any day, saying "Your soldier was called so-and-so."

Then I have a family on my hands.

There won't be questions because they won't know.

Can you read "Top Secret."

Fine, sir.

I'll search. Don't search. Find.

Today's the 5th.

"Bodies from nine zones are due in Verdun at the latest..."

Guess? "November 9th, 1920."

I want him signed, sealed and delivered tomorrow.

If this gets out...

In what way?

To the newspapers.

Then your unknown soldier's mystery evaporates and loses it's symbolism.

Still a Dreyfusard.

Get lost.

Yes, sir.

Stick a pin in the map.

At random, General?

At random.

Better over there.

"Top Secret".

You won't look?

You alone are in charge.


And no Brits or Huns under the Arch of Triumph.

Hurry up! Hurry up!

You too! Hurry up!

Look what I get.


And tiny, to boot.

They're good diggers.

Even in chalk.

So I start with... That's your affair.

For the coffins see Lambert: The best oak wood... silver handles, lead lining.

I'd rather go to Garnier... Lambert lost 2 sons.

The work will do him good.

Be careful.

I know.

No English or Germans...

And no Negroes.

Of course.

Château de Vétrille... in Vétrille.

But there's no such name.

He must have mentioned a city.

No, none at all. "Staging area, hospital zone". It's quite clear.

"Château de Vétrille."

Yes, but Vétrille?

I'll ask.

You're not fast enough.

The schoolmistress!

At last.

You recognize me? Mr. Lagrange - my inspector.

Miss Vallier.

I was afraid I'd miss you.

It's the holiday period.

I asked that the kids... It was taken care of.

That's fine.

But you know I'm here for a reason.

And my reason is Jacques Lecordier, licensed teacher, has come back for his job.

Which is yours.


No hurry.

I can stay with my family.

I have lodgings too.

The kids scare me a little.

They're nice.

Château de...

I'm in a rush.

The stuff keeps coming up.

Look, old boy.


Rich Parisians.

But we're fine as we are.

Those yellow-bellies may be comfy, but they're all cuckolds.

Figure how many of their wives I fixed on leave.

But hell, you got the clap as bonus.

Don't move, old boy.

This is big stuff.

A 220, I'll bet.

Got to undo the nag so's he won't move.

Fetch the Mine Squad.

Quick as ye can, son.

Easy, old boy...

Take it slow.

The one I replaced has replaced me.

Could I work full time for you?

If it's okay with the boss...

Ask him.

But what'll she ask for?

Before, she had the school pay coming.

But now... How much you want?

Only what you'd pay another.

That's alright.

Can you start now?

Thanks, Madame Valentin.

I'll take my bike in.

I'll fix you a rum coffee.

No rum, you know.

Siemens and Shukert are back at the Alsatian coal and lumber union.


They're Germans.


The losers do better than us.

Just be glad we're still on our feet.

Looks like little Alice.

She's back?

Hope and zippers spring eternal.

Shame on you for such talk.

The boy wants the Mine Squad.

Hear that?

Nobody's in.

Abel's horse turned up a shell.

The Mine Squad's in the Fartout woods.

I can cycle there.

Take my bike then.

Look at that crowd.

It must be a sale.

I see soldiers.

A sale of what?

A harvest. A harvest?

Eggs, or snails.

Or mushrooms.

It must be mushrooms.

There are women too.

They're buying!

Of course, André!

You always have an answer.

The angelus-bell!

Time for your midday snack.

It can wait a wee bit.

The July law is crap!

Letting families retrieve the bodies!

It is understandable.

In the battlefields and the cemeteries the dead could be counted, or at least approximated.

But once the bodies are dispersed, the issue is clouded.

It's a political ploy!

We'll write to the mayors.

Who do we have to write?

That's why we have to hurry!

Put men in the stations!

Count all the coffins before it's too late!

This not pork, Miss?

It's a roast!

See, it's written on the board - roast with pureed peas!

Here's some tea.

I want the wine-mug!

No alcohol at this table.

Not for the Muslims!

I'm allowed!

I'm a baptised Christian!

It's not the retrieval of bodies that set things going, but the retrieval of missiles, cartridges, weapons... that turns into tons of steel, copper and nickel.

All that has value!

It gets turned into bullion... gold bullion!

This is my younger brother Julien.

Artist, painter...

Joined up in '15, two wounds, three mentions.

In the infantry.

A poor footslogger's not worth a gunner, but he's gotta eat.

May I?

Have a seat.

Alice! My coffee!

And this "unknown soldier" bit... it's been going on for three, no, four years - November 16th!

Now they want to botch it in four days!

The cheese tastes odd...

Of gas, the carpenters say.

I'm in a hurry, my child.

My cheese tastes funny, Major?

I didn't have any, but I hope it tastes...

...of Camembert.


I lost my teaching job.

Do you need anybody?

And here?

This is temporary, not a career.

I have a diploma!

You should return home, child.

You know I can't!

I know, I know, your fiancé.

You should forget about him too!

What do you think you're going to find?

A handsome young man, a soldier in uniform?

Even if he's alive... if by some miracle you find him, you may wish you never had!

Because he'll be missing half his body or half his face!

How can you say that?

I say it because it's better...

for both of you.

My coffee...

Come round my office.

I'll try to find you work.

Absolutely not!

That's nice!

My brother did it.

He needs a job.

Like everyone else!

Isn't that the Fargny mill?

Yes, sir.

July '16.

July first.

Nasty spot...

I'll say!

A real artist!

I've nothing to offer.

You know Mercadot? The sculptor?

I'll mention you to him.

Bring him along to the tunnel tomorrow.

Thank you, Major.

Five plum brandies!

How will you manage?

I'll put the tray on the seat.

We mostly make mint tea, for the Arabs... at least it's hot.

Here's sugar.

You're really not hungry?

I have no appetite.

I can bring some biscuits...

They're clean.

No, thanks.

Unless you have fruit?

Fruit, fresh vegetables... even milk for the kids is a big fuss.

You have children?

I had over twenty.

Not mine!

I was the schoolteacher.

Not any more?

As of this morning!

Now I recognize you.

You had a bike?

It's good, huh?

As long as it doesn't taste of cork or vinegar...

At three francs, that's a good wine!

It goes down well.

Have a glass.

Have a look at the headlines.


That name sounds familiar.

You passed by it for sure, coming the way you did.

It's a tunnel?


The bloody Huns mined it during their retreat...

A whole train blew up inside - a Red Cross train!

It's only being dug out now?

It's not as if they haven't tried.

Lots of railroad workers here.

We know what's up.

It keeps caving in!

The place I'm looking for is the Château de Vétrille.

The "Deposit"?

A deposit of what?

A deposit of memories.

Of the poor guys who died in there.

You must have noticed it from the road.

I thought they were picking mushrooms!

I get on their nerves.

You can laugh, you the Artist...

I upset them!

Because I keep accounts which never come out right.

"Mind your own business!"

"Your job's the missing, not the dead!"

But I do it anyway.


So... 200,000 soldiers haven't been accounted for.

And I find more every day!

200,000 more, 200,000 less!

My figures are exact!

200,000 dead have been concealed!

So what if they have?

Humanity's entered its final stage, the dance of life and death - the great apotheosis!

We plug up the holes and screw to prepare for the next war!

Here's a good spot!


I'll stick their bloody monument right here.

Eight poilus, four on each side, in gilded bronze, and Victory above, her wings outspread.

What do you say?

That's all?

It's very nice... it looks a little like a brooding hen, but...

What are you hanging around for?


They want to dig up my land.

Your land?

I was given this plot.

Excellent soil for growing vegetables, Major.

For beans... For lettuce...

I'll see what I can do.

Want a lift back?

Think of it!

I'm on the Fine Arts jury at Verdun, for the November 10th ceremony.

What ceremony?

The lottery for the "Unknown Soldier"!

We can't very well throw dice!

Château de Vétrille?

This is it.

Where's the entrance?

Right there.

It's locked.

Yes, it's locked.

My husband may be hospitalised here...

Hospital's gone.

The Baroness lives here now, at last!

It's a château again.

She's not displeased.

Please sit down, believe me, I'm sorry...

The hospital was decommissioned three weeks ago!

The letter is dated last week!

I understand, Madam, but these decommissions are beyond our control...

I've gone in circles on your roads - no markers, no road signs!

Road repair is limited to...

Yes, it's the limit!

No, I said "is limited to" not "it's the limit"...

I say it's the limit - of incompetence!

Where is the ledger?

Of complaints!

This is outrageous!

All public places have them - but not you... You get off easy!

This letter (which comes from the National Assistance Board)...

"Liaison with Military Hospitals" - I can read!

But that's not us!

"Hospital Services of Military Districts"

"A ward for non-identified mentally-ill patients..."

"may exist at the temporary hospital in Vétrille".

"May exist... temporary hospital".

Give that to me!

It won't shut!

You neither know or understand a thing!

You're imbeciles and brutes and you break things!

Leave me be!

Will you honour me with your presence, Madam?

Please sit down.

I'm in charge of these brutes and imbeciles.

My name is Dellaplane.

Your outburst is unjust.

It's only normal that I intervene.

You may remember we met near Berck.

You are unjust because our service does what it can.

You say we neither understand or know a thing...

"Irène de Courtil, née Santelloz..."

"wishes to locate Infantry Sergeant Francois de Courtil, her husband..."

"missing in action near Moronvilliers..."

"on September 26, 1918, on reconnaissance."

Pretty good for a bunch of know-nothings, isn't it?

"Caught under artillery fire " French artillery fire!

That, Madam...

"of great violence, he was seen to fall..."

"while requesting the lifting of the barrage."

So he's dead rather than missing.



We thought he was dead, we wore mourning, but one day a sergeant came to see us.

He said my husband had been picked up by the Germans and hospitalised near Buzancy.

He didn't react or speak, but he was alive!

This fellow was sure he was alive.

I have his name somewhere.

Corporal Liebourg, farmer.

You knew that?

Have you a portrait of your husband?

Only a small medallion.

May I have it for a few minutes?

The De Courtil dossier in the senatorial files!

Make me an enlarged pantograph.

What will you do?

Have no fear, it's technical.

We won't dent it.

As for the German military hospital, during our victorious offensive, they evacuated their own wounded.

As for ours, including, probably... Certainly!

Probably - certainly - your husband, they were brought to the Vézillé and Vouziers stations.

But the lists of wounded evacuated by train were destroyed by the bombardments.

Thus... thus you know nothing more than years ago!

It's as clear as day!

Recognize this?

My father-in-law.


The Senator has a terrifying idea of the Republic!

There are 350,000 families in the same unhappy situation, but Paul de Courtil couldn't care less!

He writes!


His colleagues intervene - the Senate, the Ministry, my superiors - all bloody pains in the ass!

You just wanted to get back at my father-in-law?

Give me back my portrait!

Just a minute.

Your behavior is absolutely... shameful!

"For personal and other reasons..."

"I urgently need to know my son's fate."

"Please give orders so that..."

"priority be given, due to the interests at stake."

Interests at stake!

I'm not interested!

"Services rendered over the years by Shukert & De Courtil..."

That's a closet.

"Permit me to request"

"a special effort from the Search Bureau", etc.

And here, concerning me... My portrait!

"The Bureau Chief, whose statistical passion equals his staggering incompetence..."

Francois wasn't like that.

He volunteered - at the worst moment.

I know. In May, '17.

Better late...

So you've decided to be an obstacle.

No, Madam.

I don't have time to explain, but no, I'm not an obstacle.

Except that there are 350,00 missing soldiers.

349,771 to be exact.

So tell the patriarch of Shukert & De Courtil that a 350-thousandth of my staggering incompetence is devoted to his personal case.

A 350-thousandth of my time, but that's all!

Your medallion.

What do you think?

Dolicho... I mean Dolichocephalic.


Dirty blond.

Dirty blond, probably long-limbed.


In centimeters... One meter 86.

No, he was born in '86!

About my height?


This high?


Well, let's leave it at my 78-80...



Incredible the range you get in clear eyes.

Even dark eyes.

Yours for instance.

Francois' were light blue.

Your blue is really gray.

Let's say tall... size 3... medium gray... section F.

Can I help?

I may sing dirty songs, but I know my manners.

It's frightening.

Only the first pages...

Then it's like an herbarium.

A Hotchkiss?

Don't think so.

Remember Duchene's?

The general's?

Yeah, the bastard.

Well this hood's much bigger.

Can we?

Not the glass. It'll dirty.

Still warm.

Does at least 60 mph.

No, 80!

It's all set.

You can eat at the Red Cross canteen in 10 minutes.

Eat rice possible?


Eat rice possible all the time in those places.

Sure it's a rice-terant.

You take that one.

Leaving the region?

I've seen so many hospitals.

And you close them all.

Where can I reach you if I find a lead?

At my father-in-law's.

I'll do everything in my power.

A 300-thousandth of your power.

Dig up your anonymous holy relic?

Not yet.

You looked at least?

I have the coffin.

Thirty two oak.


Not a shrapnel mark.

Answer my question the body?

Packaging first.

If I find my man...

I must know where to put him.

And those?


We're digging up more than we need, you know...

I don't quite read you, Perrin.

Get your demoralizing display out of sight.

I need a van.

There is no van.

Put all this in your wheelbarrow and get it out of sight.

Do it as if it were an order.

Fine, Major...

Those coffins were inferior stuff.

My father was a carpenter.

Supplied the area.

I should know.

True, at that price you can't expect rosewood.

They make profits on quantity.

A 100 just for Grézaucourt.

A franc an item = 100 francs.


Is that a hospital?

Hospital? No.

A deposit.

A convoy hit a mine in the tunnel to Buzancy.

Is it far?

We passed it today.

The mushrooms.

Let's go back.

Monsieur ordered the car for the Senate in the morning.

He won't go on horseback.

Drive me to a train.

Is Grézaucourt direct from here?

It's not accessible.

But you can get off at Vézillé.

There are trucks from there.

At 6:54, change at Moncornet.

What about somewhere to stay?


No hotels?

A villager can put you up.

My other son's room is bigger but colder.

This is fine.

Dinner's at seven.

Vegetable soup and parmentier.

I eat little.

I can bring a pitcher of hot water.

I'll come down.

Drink it hot. I added cinnamon.

Put it there.

You're trying it on, asking for a day off already.

It's a break.

The major agreed to take me along.

But the boss will complain.

He always does.

All the same, you're milking it.

How did you get on before?

You worry me.

You're not going to be like those poor women who pass daily.

I take their photos out of charity.

But I feel like saying the dead are dead, even if you can't find them.

It's not their photos that will bring them back.

That's a nice thing to say.

I'd say the same to my daughter.

But I'm going anyway.

Another brandy?

Sleep well.

I thought of a job for you.

Writing letters to veterans associations and town halls.

That's fine.

I've got my 812 for June 17!

The Senegalese make 812.

They weren't counted.

Vézillé-Prin: Two minute stop.


One franc, eighteen, madam.

Hurry, I've got to collect the tickets.


In my pocket.

Passengers for Grézaucourt.

The truck won't leave for 40 minutes.

There are hot drinks offered by the 113th in the tent.

Prepare your passes.

Do you have one?

In my bag.

What's happening?

Soldier stepped on a mine, Lt.

What do we do?

Turn right. We sent the darkies.

Car cranks are dangerous.

My fiancé broke his hand on one.

I took him to the hospital in Decize.

He was white as a sheet.

I'll continue on foot from here.

You coming, Artist?

Stay put. The path is rocky.

They've had it up to their eyeballs with Rodin!

He was great with clay, okay.

With his thumbs, fine.

But on stone I'm his equal.

And now that he's dead...

I'm better than him.

It'll be fine here. In the open.

Sculpture going well for you?

The Golden Age, my friend.

Nothing like it since the Greeks.

Since the cathedrals.

Even shitty artists have their hands full.

A monument per village.

300 sculptors for 35,000 towns.

Everybody wants his poilu, his widow, his pyramid, his marble.

Bas-reliefs, inscriptions... it's a factory.

Better than the Renaissance - it's the resurrection.

Thanks to our dead.

Thanks to them.

I can't let you through.

I'll pick you up this evening.

What do I do?

I'm speaking to you, sir.

Later, Madam.

Please gather your baggage together.

Those with passes... examination up there on the table.

Not all spring chicks.

Ah, the Major and his sculptor.

This truck will take you.

I won't leave.

Be reasonable.

I won't be treated like this.

I demand permission - I didn't make this trip... Don't touch me!

What's going on?

No pass, sir.

Back to the station.

Have a paper?

Well... it needs a stamp...

Yes, sir... since it's you...

Get moving, greenhorns!

Good work...

Nearly 40 bodies identified.

You have the list?

Inform the families here. Yes. They'll come to the office.

Check family and Christian names.

We can't play around with figures.

A question of ethics. Ethics!

Coutrell family to the identification bureau, please.

You here, too?

Lift her wings.

She looks like a brooding hen.

It's Victory! Make her palpable, sensual!

Hey, miss...

Somebody threw my cap off.

Can you put it back on?

My name is Eugene Dilatoire - investigations and research.

Specialist in military disappearances...

Get lost! They're bandits...

I know all about it.

It cost me 20 francs... for peanuts.

Our soldiers are buried here.

Along the road are the Huns.


Or Arabs. And two Belgians.


Only Arabs towards the end!

Except the officers.

I'm looking for a French soldier.

Really French. And anonymous.

The one at the well.

A grenade went off in his hand.

Name was Mounier. From Le Mans.

Anonymous, Madam.

Anonymous. No name.

No identity. An unknown soldier.


We knew them all a little.

Our records indicate three unidentified bodies here.

Yes, an American...

An American... I don't care...

They were two - burned in their plane.

You haven't an idea... where?

It was during the harvest.

I see...

He's a prisoner?

Not any more.

He's happy here...

Who are they?


Very nice.

Especially the little one...

It's the nephew's.

Sure it's my boy's goblet.

He wrote me "As it's quiet, I've engraved a daisy on the bottom of my mug."

Regiment? 2nd Infantry.

2nd infantry.

Got a few of those inside...

Lebègue, Lebègue...

no Lebègue...

I have a no-name.

A no-name, that could be him.

You see, his fiancée, well, the girl he dated at home, her name was Daisy.

Probably that's why he drew a daisy!

I'll buy that.

Red label. You're in luck.

That means it was found on the remains.


A body.

Or what's left.

You're going to show us?

I have to - identification!

Don't worry. They were preserved in clay.

Fresh as bottles in a wine-cellar!

But we keep 'em inside 'cause out in the air, the sun... Lefèbvre!

No salute?

Take these folks to visit no.14.

But, the girl... No, not the girl!

I told him, I told my nephew, don't join up.

They don't usually consult you.

I know.

I served 16 months, and then - bye!

Bye? Yeah. Ta-ta!

Surprised, eh?

What's that?

Tunnel's not too solid. Really?

Maybe we'd better not... No, it's over there that...

Let's hurry then.

No. 14.

My God!

How thin he is!

It's him? Yes.

God, the beard changes him!

Hair and nails keep growing.

Yep, so they say.

Why isn't he in his uniform?

Ambulance car...

He must've been resting.

I'm gonna faint... Come on, kid.


No Demarchy?

Should we change the water?

Charles, my fiancé, was a bit like that corporal.


It's his bearing - so straight.

I was a pharmacist.

I mean, I worked in my parent's shop.

Let's empty that.

We'll fill it at the spring.

A Mark...

There were Germans aboard?

Not for certain.

Be our guests? What's the menu?

Either mutton & beans or beans & mutton.

Don't you ever eat?

I'll find an apple or something.

Eat it while it's hot!

No one's watching you, you know.

Wait, let me!

Help the lady. I'm used to it.

Hey, what's going on?

He's good-hearted, it upset him to show us the kid.

Grub's up!

Beans as usual!

You didn't do Africa, Trévise?

Here and there, you see herds grazing in the new grass, among the baboons.

Nothing really beautiful.

And suddenly... an antelope... lost... majestic!

All antelopes are beautiful.

You know why?

Because they're scared.

Their eyes are black and they're scared.

They're right to be; the world is full of jaws!

Transport of the body is free. Nothing to pay?


July 31st Law of Finance.

And what must be done?

I can take care of everything.

For a modest sum, I open a file and handle all formalities...

What do you think?

We'll bring him home ourselves!

Is it better than at Valentine's?

We'll soon see.

How's it going inside there?

There's a lot trickling down, but it's OK.

Water? Infiltrations?

Earth too. Sometimes a lot.

I'll check it out.

She won't come to my studio at Warin.

I didn't say that!

I won't go to any studio to pose for you!

That's what I said.

Such beautiful shoulders...

In my desk, right-hand drawer, bring me my cup, plate, silverware.

Think of all the boys who gave a piece of flesh to the Republic and you won't lend your young chest for just a two-hour session?

Stop such talk!

I'll pay you 100 sous.

Keep it! Per tit!

Chow's nearly all gone.

Give me a piece that's lean.

For the lady, over there.

From the Major.

A soldier is like a sack.

When it's full, it stays up.

When it's empty, it collapses.

An empty sack flops!

A soldier with an empty stomach flops!

Thus the expression "Nothing in his guts".

You can tell it's men's stew.

I always put garlic and thyme in the mutton.

Not you?


Please come to the tunnel...

Monsieur Fagot!

Come with me, please!

O Woman, when upon your shoulders Your hair loosely falls Let me play the comb's role, and with my fingertips unravel The intricacies of silk.

Look at that!

It's the Major's.

He has the same cup at the canteen, engraved with "D".

His family is mostly wealthy doctors.

Two of his nephews were killed.

One in a submarine, the other at Chemin des Dames.

His wife's nephews.

There's a name here.



Women, women, How to suppress All that our love desires...

This convoy carried everything - troops, ambulance cars, artillery wagons, detonators, fuses... even gas!

It seems the convoy started from Vézillé.

The Yanks were on the attack.

They hitched their wagons to an artillery convoy.

We added our ambulance cars - and off it went!

Unfortunately, the Jerries had mined the tunnel.

Why aren't the bodies in coffins?

It was lunchtime.

Here's where it gets worse.

But I told you to buttress it.

The wood, Major.

The wood?

It was sold to a contractor who paid double.


Smells of ether, no?

An ambulance car was damaged and containers broke.

I want that wood-merchant's name...

If the roofs resisted, we should be able to assess the damage...

Give the alarm! Two men with me!

No one into the tunnel!

Were you alone? The railroad guy...

Help the Major!

Bring a stretcher!

Easy now...

Easy does it, careful...

Put him on the stretcher.

Two men with gas masks, go fetch the lunatic in there!

Put him on the stretcher!

Not you, not now!

I was a stretcher-bearer, Sir.

All right.

First-aid kit, iodine, lint, and all the rest.

Breathe in, softly, breathe deeply...

Can't see a thing!

What a mess!

The North is that way?



No, no, North.

I don't understand a thing...

Tell me... we, um, we...

South, south-west!

Whenever there's a fog, it's my turn.

Send a group to recover the bodies.

And have them wear their gas masks!

And the civilians?

Let them go home!

Pains in the ass!

We shut the site, and that's that!

Or rather, tell them we'll consolidate tonight and see about the rest tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Your attention.

An accident has forced us to temporarily shut the site.

The Engineer Corps will advise us tomorrow...

But we're working tomorrow!

And my boy!

We're not going to leave him in this hole?

Pierre Lebègue, no. 14.

Now I remember - I recognize his watch.

You don't know...

Yes, I do!

Léon Couvert, born July 8, 1896 in Heudreville.

Write it down...

Those who wish to depart can take the train.

Otherwise, you'll find a temporary hotel two miles up the rail-line, at the Warin factory.

How'll I get to work?

I'm sorry - but you understand!

What'll I do? I'll take you if I find a bike.

Are there private rooms at the hotel?

At these rates, wine is extra.

What's made here?

Ironwork, machine tools.

Right! Warin's an old family from here.

Before the war, part was sold to Shukert & De Courtil.

You didn't know?

The De Courtils never talk shop with the women.

Hardly grand luxe, eh?

We had the best hotel for ten miles around.

It'll be rebuilt, but meanwhile, we make do.

The lavatories are brand new.

It's big - but women and men will have to share.

The lady's quarters.

That's the generator that...

Everything you need is in the night-table.

I'll see to the stoves.

It's far from comfortable, but... for a few hours...

I know. Thank you.

I have to telephone, but afterwards, care to join a man who detests dining alone?

I understand... you're tired...

May I help.

You're sweet. I'll manage.

You have two beds?

The parish priest will hold mass at 9 a.m.

Thank you.

Where is the telephone?

The what?

Never mind.

Charpin, yes, Major Charpin, Engineer Corps.

I'll wait for the call, yes.

I'll pay for the wine Please, let us.

Next time then.

I'm the one who sings.

But we play.

And I sing.

I'm two notes high.

May I telephone?

Then go find him.

Your five minutes were up ten minutes ago.

I didn't ask for Marshal Foch, only a simple Engineers officer!

So find him!

May I try?

Won't be long.

You see... I'm waiting...

Excuse me, please go ahead.

Forty-seven in Mescil.

Very well.

Article 106.

July 31 Finance Law: The bodies will be transferred as of December 1, 1920... in just a month.

And until then?

I handle everything.

As soon as I've opened a file, I handle everything.

Mr. Mercadot's studio, please?

You refused to set foot in there.

He's going to work on the sculpture.

That way, to your right.

I'm at the Warin factory...

That's right.

By sheer coincidence...

I don't know yet.

As soon as possible...

Believe me, Pony, this situation is difficult for me too!

I want an end to this uncertainty, this ambiguity...

Pony, you know how I feel...


I'm awaiting a call.

I have priority on the line.

You're mad!

Completely mad!

Military requisition, Madam!

Excuse me?

I don't know what woman you mean.

Put him on!

Charpin? It's none too soon.

Listen here. I need... heavy material for tomorrow morning, or maybe for tonight.

Ask the Americans, they've got men in there!

Stop it...

Let's just talk...

I'm talking to you.

I don't want to...

I'm not free, I told you.

Then why kiss me?

It was you who... No, stop...

I swear I'll scream!

You're hurting me!

Get out!

Go find your stiff.

You should be ashamed!


I saw thousands like him, thousands and thousands!

They can go to hell, because I'm here!

May I come in?

Please, may I come in?

What's the matter?

Should we share this room?

I was going to ask you.

When the moon is full, autumn nights are like summer nights.


Have a swig.

It's the mating season.

Great post-war copulation.

The stags are in rut.

The little soldier too.

Thought he was alone with Alice.

Tried, but...

The feeling dampens the fire!

The idiot asked her permission.

And your affairs, Major?

My affairs?

Now, now, my friend!

My job's sniffing things out.

I have good eyes.

Work tools!

Eyes that watch other eyes, glances that meet on a tightrope!

That's how Love travels, pal.

Those with eyes can see it.

Without a balancing pole...

Between art and art-lovers, dogs and masters, men and women... between you and her.

And even the other way around.

At my age... it's not possible.

In mere hours.

"When the full moon looms..."

"the earth's in a swoon."

I'm an ass.

The telephone is an invention...

I couldn't bear her talking.

"Yes, Pony, of course, Pony."

I thought I'd die.

You like that kind of woman.

Feelings afterwards.

The act first, then the analysis.

The act!


You're just a footslogger.

When you catch your breath... maybe resort to manners... maybe!

You're a hopeless case. Hopeless.

I don't have a single one of his letters.

My parents burned some; the rest were stolen.

Can you imagine? Stolen!

Perhaps a rival.

I recopied lines I could remember, the prettiest... real poems.

Did yours write you?

At the beginning.

Will you go to Mass?


Just because.

I don't think so, no.

You're against it?

You're against God?

I should be.

All humans should be.

You're right.

Especially women.

Only we don't dare.

Try to understand, by God.

Try to understand!

What I'm touching there... it's not the dead man, it's wood.

It's not bones, it's the coffin.

The two of us can't lift this alone.

Your religion forbids you to touch the dead, CK, but this is wood - like your shovel handles!

Wood touch dead man is dead man.



I've had it.

It might even be the right one, for all I know.

We need a strong rope.

A rope.

I dunno.

Will a rope do?

I'll go see.

You pull rope, you eat rice.

You will have some rice.

Could you please make less noise?

The Lord forbids work on Sunday.

You're working.

It's my day!

With us, it's every day.

Today let us thank the Lord for the restoration of diplomatic relations between our country, elder daughter of the Church, - errant daughter!

And the Vatican.

Cabbage. And veal kernel?

I got what I could.

Anyway, it's veal.

Where'd she come from?

She was at Mass.

There was boar for sale. But I didn't dare.

Depends on the price.

You're plucky to walk so far.

I like to walk.

Have you made up my bill?

No indeed.

It's already paid.

The Major. That's what he said.

Impossible! Where is he?

My dear, you don't know?

At two a.m., all hell broke loose in the tunnel.

It's forbidden to go past.

We've done all we could.

I'll send my compliments to your superiors requesting special leave.

Thank you.

Assemble your men.

Return to quarters.

We did all we could.

Your night must have been... dreadful.

Pretty dreadful, yes.

For all sorts of reasons.

It'll take weeks to clear - clear what?

Mud and ashes...

You're hurt?

Thank you.

It's as if the war was still on.

You saw the war from afar.

War is worse...

so much worse.

Acres and acres covered with rotting cadavers, no trees, fly-covered heads sticking out of water-holes...

It stinks!

Swarming with rats. Shut up!

We do nothing but shut up!

Who'd listen to us anyway?

Who'd print it?

The newspapers want only lies and official idiocy.

"The war's devastating allure only appears to be destructive."

I read that!

Signed: General Cherfils.

1,500,000 deaths only appear to be dead!



Who is Pony?

I said, who is Pony?

It must be your fatigue. No reply?

I'm the one with the questions. That's why I came.

By what right...?

Your behavior last night... of a ruffian!

No, no, that term is old-fashioned.

Last night I eavesdropped... Shame on you!

Your behavior is odious!

I'm ashamed, but I heard you...

So who is he?

My father-in-law.

I don't believe you.

He's always been called that in the family.

And like it or not, I'm part of that family.

The Senator?


Like a little pony?

Major, two men are missing.

Are you sure? I checked...

Wait here. I'll go.

Come on!

He inhaled a ton of gas.

Let's go... walk...

Glass capsules inside the shells shatter and release the gas.

Until the last one releases its poison, we'll have this kind of...

I must be jealous!


You asked "By what right?"

It's obvious.

I must be jealous.

Your husband wasn't?

My husband?

It's so long ago.

I'm linked to him only by this pursuit...

I thought I found his signet-ring.

Was it his? No.

Anyway, rings...

We've found thousands...

His was special.

It was sawed in two after an accident and badly repaired.

He broke his hand cranking up a car.

I know, you already told me.

Me? Yesterday.


But I'd completely forgotten about it until now!

At the hospital in Decize!

That's right!

The factory had withdrawn nearby.

I told you all that?

I'm losing my mind...

These bottles weren't here.

Yes, they were.

The families left them behind.

Left them?


Like bottles in the sea.

Each has a few words.

"If you find Col. E. Blanchot of the 112th..."

"...notify his family in Greenvale Wood..."

I use "Greenvale" because its colorful...

About your husband's accident... Were you there?

No. He came to Paris on weekends.

Otherwise he ran the factory. Why?

Oh, never mind.

Sorry, my head's not clear either.

De Courtil's pantograph.

And the fiancé?


Want both?

Could be my imagination... two descriptions by two women... and the same details about a crank and a broken hand at Decize.

Yes, I heard Alice.

But which other woman? Mme de Courtil?

Why the same man? Why not.

Was his name Francois?


Charles Férou.

There's no connection.

The initials!



The same!

That proves nothing.

But both women are here.

That's a consequence, not a coincidence.

They came the same way... for the same man!

Like two rivers meeting.

Keep this to yourself.

These days I'm stumbling against everything.

I have to leave my car for the gas victim.

We can wait for it.

Our last year together was empty.

He scorned his advantages and social position.

The war was an escape from his privileges.

I couldn't hold him back.

Maybe I didn't want to.

I'm beginning to see...

The hospitals!

The wild procedures!

The zeal!


In fact, yes.

Had I really loved him, I'd have fought tooth and nail to stop him.

I'd have laid down before his train.

But I didn't.

Because I hoped... he'd return different.


I'm cold.

I can do this in a bigger model if you want.

The price?

Check the catalogue there.

We want shells in it too.

Four shells.

With marble and name plates.

In Brizelle, there's an obelisk with 36 names... nine on each side.

But they forgot the Lambert boy and had to make a separate plate.

37 dead for 906 inhabitants.

Too much, almost?

A fair average.

10% of those called up.

How many for you?

That's precisely... why we want to see this officer.

He seems to have contacts.

Notably the Prefect Blancart.

Tell me.

I have contacts too.

It's like this... our village, Lacagne, had 17 called up.

As luck would have it, not one casualty.

Some luck!

Imagine the insinuations!

And we get no priorities.

Not a centime from the county or ministry.

What's the prefect to do with this?

A farm in the next township had two dead... one son and a farmhand.

If we could change the district boundaries we could claim the dead.

They had more than 30 anyway.

Wouldn't hurt them!

More than 30!

Nobody asked for two bodies.

It was safer.

I wasn't sure... Sure about what?

One of them may have been a Yank.

He was missing an ear.

Meaning what?

You know Indians.

I was waiting for your return.

Some clients for you.

This isn't the place.

They just need a minute.

It's like this... Our village had 17 called...

But no dead.

Not a one.

Charles and I bathed twice together in the same tub...

Francois would've hated that.

It's so beautiful.

You take them everywhere?

It's easy with the car.

Stop! We'll smell like tarts!

The horrid smells everywhere!

The cemeteries, the mass graves...

Ossuaries are the worst!

You'll find your man.

I don't think so.

He's here.

In Grézaucourt.

Charles too. I'm sure.

I found a Swiss knife.

I threw it away.

But it could have been his.

They all had one. Mine too.

With a cross?

I think so.

Hundreds were distributed.

For all they helped...

Why throw it away?

It's a dead man's knife.

I want him alive.

You just said... I know I often contradict myself.

But alive, yes! That would be best.

All these months I feared finding him in some hospital...

Alive but broken.

Slowly the thought of him dead became... a comfort.

I'm not even sad.

I feel soothed.

How can you say that?

I say it sincerely.

Very sincerely.

I was looking for Alice.


You broke a flask?

She'll be right back.

I managed to get the portraits of some bodies in the train.

Most were burnt just after.


See if any correspond.


Are you sure?

I knew him.

1 m 80. Light eyes.


You saw him often?

Yes, at first.

Which region?

You know. In Nievres.

What did he do?

He worked in armaments, I think.

Then he enlisted.

In 1917.

May '17.

Why these questions?


He wore this ring.

We weren't married yet!

Yes, my child... he was.

We'll close this file later in my office.

You dared tell her?

Why such brutality?

To help her.

By torturing her?

By stunning her.

You have to strike once, so hard it's like a nightmare.

Later you wake up and life seems gentler.

The 7:50 train won't do...

Full of drunken soldiers on leave.

I'll put you on the morning train.

Are you hungry?


Ragout and beef for the surveyors.

He was a typical well-born lad.

I was dazzled.

So we danced and I was hooked.

You were really an orchestra violinist?

Not an orchestra. No.

Well, yes. For charity lepers...

Chinese... orphans...

The deaf?


He was attractive.

That annoyed him.

Life's badly made.

I would have loved to be attractive.

He was shy.

More natural than the rest of his family.

That's a fact in his favour.

Why all this hate?


The word's much too... weak.

Did you know that Pony... was a go-between in the restitution of a captured German munitions ship... to its owner Krupp!

In mid-war!!


He's a patriot.

He made huge donations.

And here?

See any destruction?

Oh, the villages, woods, hospitals, churches, yes!

But this factory? Unusable!

Not in use, rather.

When the war started, we beat a strategic retreat... thus delivering into German hands the factories of Brécy and Thionville.

In return for...?

The Germans spared these and other gems of industrial architecture when they retreated.



This plant can be active in two months.

Hence the patriarch's impatience to file the "missing-in-action" as "killed-in-action."

Legally a missing soldier jams the works.

A dead hero restores a firm's prestige.

If that turns out to be true... What will you do?

Keep out of my affairs!


Did I ask about your ring?

It's my mother's.

You must have a wife.

You never mention her.

An officer's wife - that's interesting.

Not any more.

She's now a notary's wife in Orléans.

Hot pear tarts.

Last of the season.

From the last living pear tree in Verdun.

Some champagne?

Between what the Huns drank and the Yanks took...!

Want to try one of the new dances?

I'm a throwback... a man of 1913.

Can you play that? That? Kid's stuff!

You think it's immoral?

Champagne and dancing for a widow?

And now the One and Only Cora Mabel of the Concerts Parisiens.

I'm not immoral because I'm no longer a widow.

For sons of the dead.

After four years in the trench there met in a singular bout Tiny Pierre for the fighting French and Franz the mighty Kraut.

Hate was the only compass Guiding them through the gas, From the French mountain ridge to the tall Belgian grass.

At dawn Pierre jumps to his feet, across to his foe

"Rendezvous with the crows!

Today's your final retreat!"

Lunging forth bayonet gleaming Pierre wounds Franz.

His blood is streaming, But Prussian strength knows no ebb His butt cracks the head of our Paris pleb.

Both now stagger, their forces drained Pale as ghosts, crimson-stained

When the trumpet blares in the morning air It's the cease-fire Then the Prussian falls to his knees pleading "Have pity please For my poor German hide We are now kin forever after!"

And throwing down their arms The two warriors confide Sharing in the blink of an eye Tears, blood, and laughter!

I have a locomotive for you.

Is something wrong?

I'd like to leave, please.

I wanted to leave that place.

They're young; they've suffered so much.

One patriotic song - and off they go to war!

And you too - off to war!

It's a club.

It'll be a club for years to come, the club of those who won the war!

And the losing side will have its club too!

You know why I think of clubs?

Because women aren't admitted.

Nothing scares you more than women, their wombs, their courage, their watching eyes...

Stop the car!

Stop the car!

Do you want me?

As I really am?

But, listen! Really!

You say such things...

You hardly know me.

I don't mean a business partnership.

It's not a question of confidence, but of love.

Of passion.

In mere seconds we can know of our desire to be together - forever!

I'm 15 years older than you.

Maybe more. So what?

A formula exists, Major.

Three words.

Just say them, and I'm sworn to you, irrevocably, I'll follow you everywhere, with my dresses, my black eyes, my violin, and my my romantic past.

Three words and we're together.

I'm listening, Mme...



Tomorrow... we'll see things more clearly...

Monsieur Maginot, Minister of War and Pensions!

These women represent the widows and mothers.

And the soldier for the lottery?

But he fought?

Class of '19, volunteer, son of a missing soldier.

He fought in Champagne, Verdun, Alsace.

A rare survivor.

Soldier, approach!

Soldier Auguste Thain.

I've been told of your record.

You're very young.

Yes, Sir.

All the same.

So you leave me in the lurch?

I was held up.

Held up by what?

By everything.


Take this bouquet picked on the battlefield of Verdun amid the graves of our patriotic dead.

Lay it on one of these eight coffins.

It will be that of the Unknown Soldier which the nation will accompany to the Arc de Triomphe.

Supreme homage!

The finest France ever paid to one of its children.

Yet none too great when he must symbolize and immortalize the valiant soldier whose anonymous sacrifice and superhuman heroism safeguarded homeland, justice and liberty.

Not interested?

It distresses me.

But it reassures them.

They had 1,500,000 killed, but now they'll think only of this one.

This sham is a scandal!

You're a scandal!

My final list, General!

I found 51,000!

In two months!

Have you finished pestering me with your maniacal accounts?

To the dead!

Why did you choose number six?

I'm of the 132nd.

I added up the digits.

And my regiment's in the 6th corps.

Hold still!

Why only eight coffins for nine zones?

One zone wasn't sure about its body's nationality.

Nobody knows his identity?

He's my uncle.

I try not to judge...

That's what these years have taught me.

Another thing... the tea.

You make it much too strong.


But I never...

Oh yes!

In the car.

Two days ago. Two days ago?

It seems like weeks.

Put just a little in a tea-ball, and don't boil the water.

It's not really important... unless you live with a tea-drinker.

As a souvenir...


I'll remember you.

Me, too.

I'm going home. My parents are waiting.

Teacher. That's fine.

It will be.

I'll say goodbye to the Valentins.

"Bédarieux, January 6, 1922.

My dear, dear Irène,

Your letter gave me great hope and thus great joy.

You at last!

At last a few words revived your voice, your gaze, the poignant silhouette of my relentless solitude.

God brings my message to you in New York as you prepare to leave for Wisconsin.

It's a tiny spot on my globe.

How will I find you if you disappear there?

You say new life, new faces, new start.

Why all this novelty?

You who renew things so well especially the old hearts of old men.

You didn't understand my emotion, my silence...

Did I myself?

I still tremble with deep tenderness.

Your fervor and force paralyzed me.

Frightful night in my memory.

I only had to murmur those three words, but I kept silent.

Now I shout them a hundred times a day, with all my force, hoping they bridge the great expanse between us.

I love you.

Yes, I love you.


You may laugh after all these months apart.

My confession calms me.

It proves I'm alive, at peace with myself.

The rest is trivial...

I made big resolutions... such as leaving the army, which let me go without difficulty.

As I have no taste for cities or suits, I've returned to my childhood home where I have a few acres of rocks and vineyard.

Without illusions, I offer you this paltry kingdom.

It's 10 p.m.

There's dung, mint, and caramel in the air (because I dropped sugar on my stove).

Tomorrow I'll see if my boars have left for Spain, and begin to wait.

For you.

I already am.

I'll only wait 100 years.

Let's say 101 years.

Post scriptum These are my final dreadful statistics.

In comparison to the duration of the Allied Victory March down the Champs-Elysées, about three hours, I think, I calculated that given the same speed, step, and military formations, the march of those who died in this inexpiable madness would have lasted 11 days and 11 nights.

Forgive me this crushing accuracy.

Yours, for life.