Safe Conduct

Safe Conduct (French: Laissez-passer) is a 2002 French historical drama film directed by Bertrand Tavernier and written by Tavernier and Jean Cosmos. It is based on the memories of the veteran French director Jean Devaivre, active in the film industry and the resistance during the Second World War.

Safe Conduct
(Fr: Laissez-passer)
film poster
Directed byBertrand Tavernier
Produced byFrédéric Bourboulon
Alain Sarde
Written byBertrand Tavernier
Jean Cosmos
StarringJacques Gamblin
Denis Podalydès
Music byAntoine Duhamel
CinematographyAlain Choquart
Edited bySophie Brunet
France 2 Cinéma
France 3 Cinéma
Distributed byBac Films
01 Distribuzione
Release date
9 January 2002 (2002-01-09)
Running time
170 minutes
Budget$18.5 million[1]
Box office$1.7 million[2]


The film is about the French film industry from 1942 to 1944 during the Nazi occupation. The film focuses on assistant director and resistance fighter Jean Devaivre and screenwriter Jean Aurenche.

Devaivre works for the German production company Continental Films, where he is respected. However, he is involved in dangerous resistance activity.[3]

Aurenche keeps moving locations so that he does not have to write anything collaborationist. On the other hand, Aurenche's scriptwriting doesn't help how he lives and he is a womanizer which causes him to procrastinate.[4]



The film is based on French director Jean-Devaivre's memoirs.[5] Bertrand Tavernier felt compelled to tell the story[6] because of his interest in reviving films from 1942 to 1944 and because he has friendships with key figures from those films.[7] Principle filming began November 6, 2000.[8]

Court case

The real life Devaivre sued director Tavernier because he wanted his name bigger than Aurenche's in the credits. Tavernier's enemies, including Cahiers du Cinéma and Le Monde, attacked him because they thought that he was attacking the French New Wave when he portrayed the characters of Aurenche and Bost in a positive light. Tavernier thought that it was crazy that they were attacking him and pointed out that he had worked with Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Agnès Varda, and Jacques Demy and did not oppose any of their works.[9] French critics think that the film supports passitivity and collaboration as well as appealing to the conservative elements of French film-making.[7]

In January 2002, a Paris court ruled that Tavernier was required to rewrite the screen credits to ensure full acknowledgement be given to Jean Devaivre, who in his lawsuit claimed Tavernier duped him for commercial reasons. Devaivre had accused Tavernier of twisting the truth, and demanded the film to be withdrawn from distribution after claiming that Tavernier "deceived, robbed and betrayed artistic creation and my friendship for commercial reasons". In return Tavernier implied that the quarrel was about money, rather than truth, commenting "The man whom he called 'my hero' had at first refused any payment, but his family later demanded both recompense and acknowledgement that the work was inspired by the autobiography". Judge Francis Delphin said that Laissez-passer could not go on the festival circuit without recognition of Devaivre's contribution.[10]


The film got 75% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 36 reviews with the consensus "A highly detailed, exciting historical epic."[11]

Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review and 4 out of 4 stars.[12] Kent Turner of Film-Forward said that the acting is unfocused because the acting is understated and appears in many moments to be improvisational.[13] Jürgen Fauth, of, said that Tavernier has woven a rich tapestry that never hits the dramatic high point, the life-and-death crisis that Hollywood has trained us to expect, but that the film still satisfies through its continually compelling surface, the kaleidoscopic scope of its attention, the large and small stories it tells.[14] Holly E. Ordway, of DVD Talk, said that the film will probably be enjoyed by devotees of French cinema who are well-versed in the history of the art, but that it's not worth watching for anyone else.[15]

Lisa Besselson of Variety felt that the film could have offered a greater insight into French film industry during a complex historical era. While noting that some of the best-handled content did not appear until 2 hours into the film, what was perceived as an unnecessary length detracted. She predicted the film "will reap the movie plenty of attention and elicit praise from French crix and essayists".[16]

In reviewing the top 10 films of 2002, David Parkinson of The Oxford Times wrote that with France's Vichy era still considered a taboo topic in that country, it was not surprising that Laissez-passer "would inflame passions". He further noted that by Tavernier including names of films and film-makers that would have little historical significance to scholars, the film was a missed opportunity that "only fleetingly captures the atmosphere of suspicion and repression that existed on the studio floor or the impact the resulting pictures made on the populace".[17]


Jacques Gamblin won the Silver Bear for Best Actor and Antoine Duhamel won Best Original Score at the Berlin International Film Festival both in 2001 and 2002. Emile Ghigo was nominated for Best Production Design and Antoine Duhamel was nominated for Best Original Score at the French Academy of Cinema.[18] Bertrand Tavernier won Best Director, Best Film, and Best Screenplay at the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival.[19]

Film festivals

DVD release

The DVD has a 2.35:1 picture and Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The special features is a theatrical trailer, an interview with the director, and production notes.[7] The language is French with English subtitles. The DVD was released on November 2002 in the United Kingdom[24] and the United States.[25]


  3. LaSalle, Mick (2003-03-21). "Safe Conduct". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  4. Carroll, Bob. "Laissez-passer". Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. Null, Christopher (2004). "Safe Conduct". Film Critic. Archived from the original on 2010-02-06. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  6. Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann. "Safe Conduct". Spirituality & Practice. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  7. Megahey, Noel (2003-05-13). "Laissez-Passer". DVD Times. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  8. "News in brief". The Guardian. 13 October 2000. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  9. Macnab, Geoffrey (2002-10-23). "Film Don't mention the war". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  10. Webster, Paul (6 January 2002). "'Treacherous' Tavernier in war movie row". The Observer. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  11. "Safe Conduct". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  12. Ebert, Roger (9 May 2003). "Safe Conduct Movie Review". Sun Times. Retrieved 2009-12-07.
  13. Turner, Kent (16 May 2004). "Safe Conduct". Film-Forward. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  14. Fauth, Jürgen. "Safe Conduct". Retrieved 1 October 2010.
  15. E. Ordway, Holly (11 May 2004). "Safe Conduct (Laissez-passer)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
  16. Besselson, Lisa (8 January 2002). "review: Laissez-Passer". Variety. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  17. Parkinson, David (17 December 2009). "That Was the Decade That Was - Part One". The Oxford Times. Archived from the original on December 21, 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  18. "Safe Conduct Awards". Fandango. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  19. "USA: Fort Lauderdale Film Festival". uniFrance. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  20. "40th New York Film Festival, 2002". Bright Lights Film Journal. Archived from the original on 2006-03-29. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  21. "City of Lights, City of Angels 2002". Plume-Noire. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  22. "The 52nd Berlin Film Festival". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  23. Goodridge, Mike (2002-03-20). "Laissez-Passer opens 6th LA French film festival". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  24. "Laissez-passer". Radio Times. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  25. ""Laissez-passer" sold in the United States". uniFrance. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.