Veteran director Volker Schlöndorff, who won an Oscar for his 1979 adaptation of Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum, turns in a more modest yet enormously affecting wartime drama depicting an atrocity in Occupied France. Schlöndorff has strong French ties, having learned his trade assisting filmmakers Louis Malle and Alain Resnais.
Based on real events and the writings of Pierre-Louis Basse, Ernst Jünger and Heinrich Böll, Calm at Sea is set in 1941 in a French internment camp whose inmates include political prisoners as well as criminals. When Resistance fighters assassinate a German officer, Hitler orders that 150 French prisoners must be killed. Some German officers are uneasy about such reprisals, as are the ineffectual French guards and functionaries, but even a compromise solution results in a terrible injustice. Adopting a scrupulously even-handed and unsentimental approach, and displaying a sharp sense of political and historical detail, Schlöndorff’s film also packs quite an emotional punch.
Showing as part of German Film Week, presented in co-operation with the Goethe-Institut Irland.