Un village Francais: Season 1, episode 5

Next to last episode of this great new series about the German occupation of France. A small town called Villeneuve gets to symbolize what all of occupied France had to go through. Both the good and the bad, both collaboration and resistance. In episode 5, it’s become 7 November 1940, and we see a very primitive cinema set up in probably the town hall. Rich lumber yard owner Raymond Schwartz enters the hall with his wife Jeannine, and finds them a seat but he also notices that his beloved mistress Marie, is out in the wardrobe area. He walks out to try to exchange a couple of words with her and gives his wife the excuse of needing to use the loo. She is all absorbed in the newsreel on the screen which among other things show Petain shaking hands with Hitler. But more about that in a little while.

Raymond goes out to talk to Marie Germain and she is as delighted to see him as he is of seeing her, even though the situation has become very complicated for them, after her dead husband showed up alive. They both agree that they can not live a double life and yet, they can’t keep from kissing each other and starting to make out, there in the open, outside the loo. And they are seen by the Schwartz’ maid, Sarah, who happens to walk by. They interrupt themselves since the film is cancelled. Some people in the audience whistled and booed at Petain. Or was it at Hitler?

imageThe next morning, Marcel walks his son Gustave to school and intends to do some communist work but before he can continue handing out his propaganda leaflets, the man who saw him outside his house, recognises him and screams for the Gendarmes to arrest Marcel. Marcel takes off running and runs in to the post mistress. She understands what is happening and demands that he gives her, his leaflets. She puts them in her own bag, pretends that he almost knocked her down and when the Gendarmes ask him why he ran, he just says that he got scared. When they demand to look in his bag, and he shows an empty bag, they want to know why he walks around with an empty bag. He quickly answers that he carried his little boy’s school books to school. And he is let off the hook.

Kommendant von Ritter is once again back at the police station to talk to the police and the mayor. A man from Gestapo had been in the audience at the cinema, with a young lady, and he was the one who had stopped the film from being shown after the whistling. The Germans want to have the whistler arrested and De Kerven basically tells his colleagues to forget it, since Marek got 10 years of prison for selling items on the black market, so why should they hand anyone over to the Germans again. But Jean Marchetti is obsessed with justice, sometimes (not when it has to do with Hortense Larcher), and he sets out to find the culprit. De Kerven warns him that he is loosing his soul when he does as the Germans tell him. Not knowing what a hypocrite Marchetti really is.

Marcel manages to find the post mistress again and gets horribly angry when he

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

finds out that she burned the leaflets. But she explains to him that she had to and she also found them utter trash. She wonders how on earth the communists can say that London is the enemy. She introduces herself as Suzanne Richard and offers to actually help him with his work. IF he changes the text to say “Out with the Germans!”. Marcel says that he has to discuss this with his communist comrades in Vichy first and she gives him the time he needs.

Meanwhile, Jean Marchetti is trying to sniff out the whistler among citizens reluctant to talk to him. Finally he strikes luck when an older man reveals, under threat, who sat on the back row where the whistling came from. He gives Jean the name Sarah Meyer. “She is a nice girl though, for being an Israelite! She always let me go ahead of her in the queue. And she did not whistle!” The problem is that Sarah was supposed to be home working Sunday night, when the event took place, her day off being Mondays. Jean goes to find Sarah but he does not find her, but Jeannine Schwartz, and puts ideas in to her jealous head.

Jeannine must be feeling that her husband is having an affair and now she thinks that it is with Sarah. IF Sarah was at the cinema, he must have been with

Marcel Larcher and Sarah Meyer

Marcel Larcher and Sarah Meyer

her there, since his visit to the loo was far too long in her opinion. Raymond swears that he is not having an affair with Sarah, which of course is true. To make sure that Sarah stays quiet about what she saw at the cinema, he goes to her room early in the morning. Only to find her in bed with Bellini’s son Michel. Bellini being a very powerful man, the president of the chamber of commerce. Raymond doesn’t care, he is more concerned about Sarah not letting his wife know the truth.

Marcel Larcher meets his communist contact from Vichy and that man lectures Marcel no end. The comrades are displeased with him. Under no account is he allowed to work with Suzanne Richard, who is married to a socialist. He must repent and fix the mess he has created by losing the leaflets. Marcel is not pleased with the way the man is talking to him though. He is a hot head and will do as he pleases, no doubt.

Sarah Meyer is forced to go to the police station and she tells Jean that she was home darning socks, putting up the black out curtains and cooking dinner. When he objects to it not taking very long darning socks, she begs him not to tell Madame Schwartz that she was reading “Martin Eden”. She tries to pacify the detective, asking him if he has read it and he very stiffly points out that he only reads police reports. Being of a somewhat obsessed nature, he will not swallow her lie though and points out that she is an Israelite which has not registered as a Jew and that Camille Heusinger, pointed her out as having been to the cinema, and being “very nice for being an Israelite”. He says it doesn’t look good that she lies to the police and lies to her employers. She finally gives up and tells him that she was at the cinema with Michel Bellini, and he realizes that this is probably a young man they can not touch. But between her tears, she says that he did not whistle either.

Out at the farm Lorrain is making Marie’s life hell. He is suffering from PTS, can not get anything done and he has started to look in to their finances, realizing that they owe money right and left and that Marie has not paid rent for three months. He wants to know the reason and she says that she struck a deal with Raymond when the banks closed, that they would pay rent when things got back to normal. But Lorrain wants to know details about interest and things and in the middle of the argument, he notices that a big heavy cupboard has been moved. How did she manage to move that? She says some workers helped her, one in particular, who died in a bombing. But Lorrain points out that the man in question had something wrong with his hip, so WHO helped her? Of course she does not tell him that it was Raymond and that they afterwards made love. She is saved by a man who comes in to requisition a horse and a pig. Lorrain looses it and says that doesn’t he want his wife too? Now suspecting everyone of having it off with his wife. He grabs a gun and threatens the man, screaming at him that without the animals, they will not be able to produce a thing.

In Villeneuve, De Kerven, head of police, has invited Madame Morhange for dinner. At the police station. He wonders how she is getting along and if the work as a seamstress is going well. She tells him that she never knew she was so lousy at sewing and that so many women had the same idea as her. She is in trouble and De Kerven suggests that she comes and works as his secretary, part-time. But she points out that she is not allowed to since she is a Jew, but he has found a loophole in the law. The contract is only for a year and it would not be counted as a permanent job then, which is what Jews are not allowed to uphold. She wants to know why he is so kind and wants to help her. Only a blind person would not see that. He likes her but is too much of a buffalo to tell her. She is starting to understand though and she asks for his advice. Should she register as a Jew? He says, absolutely. That would keep her safe from more hassle. “What else could happen?” he says sincerely. Famous last words aren’t they?!

By now, the rumours about what Lorrain did, has reached the Schwartz and Jeannine tells Raymond that she wants the couple fired, that they should not be allowed to run the farm anymore, which belongs to the Schwartz family. Raymond tells her that he will go out there and talk to them, which he does. He imagegets to talk to Marie for a couple of seconds and kiss her and then Lorrain shows up and tells Raymond that he plans to take Marie and move, since he is sick and tired of being in debt and of requisitions. He asks Raymond to help him and Marie slaughter a pig, and then Raymond comes up with the idea that if they sell the pig to this man who is throwing a wedding for a daughter, in just a couple of days, they can earn 1000 Francs instead of the 20 they would get at the market. Raymond takes the pig with him in his car, to Villeneuve, but is stopped on the bridge by his new friend, who is back from leave in Düsseldorf and wants to show him a gift from his wife. The gift being a German shepherd, called Willie, who smells the meat in the car. Raymond has to promise him some meat, in order to pass.

During a dinner with the under-prefect, Larcher and Jean Marchetti tells the previous, who the whistler was. The under-prefect says that they can not arrest the son of such an important person, as the president of the chamber of commerce. That now is not the time to destroy social order. But Jean insists that now is the time to show that money, class and position doesn’t mean a thing anymore, that justice will be served and that this will reinforce the society they are trying to build in occupied France. Finally, the under-prefect agrees to let them do as they please, if it helps the new order to become more popular.

Jeannine Schwarz

Jeannine Schwarz

While Raymond stands and tries to sort out the pig, never having cut up a pig before, his wife comes in drunk as a skunk. Sarah has confessed to her about the cinema visit and that Raymond has a mistress. Jeannine screams that she is going to punish Raymond by telling her dad and when she does, he will lose his son Marceau and the lumber yard. In the middle of it all, Sarah comes in and says that her parents have written that she must go register herself as a Jew and she must have the day off, since it is the last day to register. But Jeannine refuses to let her have the day off. Also displaying a now famous French anti-Semitism, not really caring a straw for Sarah and what happens to her.

At the police station, Jean Marchetti has brought Michel Bellini in for questioning and De Kerven is also present. Bellini says that he did not whistle and boo at Petain, that it was at Hitler and that he could not help that Petain was shaking his hand with Hitler right then. He adds that he did not know that it was forbidden to boo at Hitler. Jean asks him to empty his pockets and De Kerven grabs the first thing, an address book full of girl names. Jean grabs the second book that comes out of his pockets and we all recognise it from the church in episode 2. Téquiéro’s mother was clutching it when she died and he took it from the corpse when he was trying to help Lucienne organize a sorting and queueing system. Jean looks in it and understand what it is. He asks where Michel got hold of it and he tells him “from a corpse”. Jean asks him if he has read it and he says no, he doesn’t understand Spanish. Jean reminds him that stealing from a corpse is a crime and Michel says that he saved it from being thrown in a mass grave, so what? “You are young. You can go for this time”. De Kerven can hardly believe what he hears Jean say! But Jean defends himself with that we must keep the under-prefect happy. Sudden change of mind!

Jean of course understands how dangerous this diary is for Hortense Larcher and her happiness. Inside it, is a photo of Carlotta and the man who is now in prison thanks to Hortense and Jean. Jean takes the diary to Hortense and when she sees the photo, she realizes that the man in the photo has Téquiéro’s eyes. Or vice versa. Jean can hardly take his loving eyes off Hortense when she goes to put the diary away in a drawer. It is getting more and more difficult to keep that baby away from his rightful family and yet, Jean will do anything for Hortense. It is with sadness I realize that there is only one episode left of season 1 and who knows when they will show the next one here in Sweden. As a matter of fact, Jean and Hortense are not the ones I wonder most about, but the people running the greatest risk here are Marcel, who has decided to go with Suzanne’s daring plan and not his communist comrades’ plans. She fetches newspapers at the printers and during one hour, they will stick leaflets in to all the newspapers, saying out with the Germans. Marcel is scared since it is a risky action but he wants to do something and has started to see Suzanne’s point, that the Germans are the enemy. And what will happen to Madame Morhange and Sarah Meyer, after they have registered as Jews? They of course are heading for concentration camps, but when and how? Will someone hide them? Help them? Will they survive the war? Jeannine Schwartz certainly has no feelings for her maid. But De Kerven certainly likes Madame Morhange. For their sake, I hope it all ends well. I hate unhappy endings!

 

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