The Last Metro & Sentimental Fantasy

Le Dernier Métro or The Last Metro (1980), directed by Francois Truffaut and starring Catherine Deneuve, and Gerard Depardieu, is set in Nazi occupied Paris, more specifically a theatre and it’s new production.

last_metro

When Francois Truffaut says that he wanted to “evoke the climate of the Nazi occupation of France,” some might expect a certain sense of realism in the film, but, in Roger Ebert’s words, it’s nothing “more than a sentimental fantasy.”

English theatre critic and writer, Kenneth Tynan said that drama as an art form had to be concerned with politics in that it cannot help but be political. To quote the film, “everything is political.” Therefore, while I realize that Ebert meant that it being a sentimental fantasy only brought down the value of the film, my argument here is that I think it’s quite the contrary. It’s only another way for the spectator to understand how it really was at the time. We must remember that realism is subjective and to really grasp a concept like the Nazi occupation, we should allow a bit of sentimentality that could give way to some extent to realism. We must not be so straightforward with our intentions in terms of art. A message can be relayed by only telling a story from the perspective of, in this case, a theatre manager. We do not have to state all the facts of an experience; simply telling the story can naturally do that for you.

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