Memoir of War is French director Emmanuel Finkiel’s adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical novel “The War: A Memoir”. It stars Mélanie Thierry (The Princess of Montpensier) as Duras. The film is a story of love, loss, and resistance against the backdrop of war and the Nazi occupation of France.
The year is 1944, and Duras is in the Resistance together with her husband, writer Robert Antelme, in Nazi-occupied Paris. When Antelme is arrested and sent to the Dachau concentration camp by the Gestapo, Duras intentionally becomes friendly with a French Nazi collaborator, Rabier (Benoît Magimel), to gain information at serious risk to her fellow underground fighters. But as the time passes on without news of her husband, she starts to confront the worst outcome. Through the mixture of voiceover based on Duras’ text and purely cinematic images, Finkiel channels the complicated inner world of one of the 20th century’s most distinguished writers.
“The War: A Memoir” ("La Douleur") was written in 1944 and first published in 1985. The book has been translated into many languages and published in more than 20 countries.
Finkiel, an award-winning writer-director, began his career as an assistant to Bertrand Tavernier, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Jean-Luc Godard. His first feature film as a director, Voyages, earned him two César Awards (Best First Film and Best Editing) and the Youth Award in Cannes.
Finkiel, about his idea for the film, says: “Rather than making a biopic, I wanted a film that would focus on what the character of Marguerite was feeling. Accompanied by the music of Duras own words, it is an intimate and subjective journey through Paris under German occupation and the first months of the liberation. We remain close to her, until her waiting comes to an end, experiencing the ordeal of her solitude and her madness. Her pain”.