Skip to main content


France, 1976 (MIFF 1978)

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

At a small French outpost in West Central Africa, news of the First World War doesn't arrive until six months after the outbreak of hostilities. The Frenchmen decide to attack the neighbouring Germans in another European colony.

Neither side has any military strength the French rely on a sergeant, and the Germans on three soldiers So, they conscript natives into their new armies and compel them to do the fighting.

The French take their wives out for a day's picnic to watch the battle, but they are routed by the fighting. When the battle begins to go badly for the French, a young scientist who is doing research in the colony, takes over and re-organizes the natives.

On both sides the armies are set up and waiting to fight while bad weather drags on and illness reduces the ranks. The scientist assumes the status of a near-dictator, and when he takes an elegant African mistress none of the French protest.

Fighting continues in a travesty of European trench warfare, until an English group appears and announces that the war is over and that they are taking over the German colony. But the French side with the Germans, and the natives — ironically — appear to be fighting on.

Academy Award

See also...

The Captive Child

A story film on the theme of the alienation of a nine year old child by his surroundings, and its effects on his present and future life. ... More »

The Girl and the Sea Shell

Dream fantasy of a pretty girl in an old country house. ... More »


Jons Ivens' involvement with China began in 1938, when he filmed his The 400 Million, his account of the Sino-Japanese War. He returned to China again in the '50s and '60s, then filmed, with his ... More »


An experimental film, tracing the growth of a little girl, using mostly photographs, minute segments of film, and a minimal sound track. ... More »

At Last

Relations of a pregnant woman with her body, her husband, her environment and her child, and the final solution she finds. ... More »


Last year's Melbourne Film Festival was opened by Vincent. Francois, Paul et les autres; in his new film, Mado, Claude Sautet returns to the crises of the middle-aged bourgeois. ... A 50 year-old ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director