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Lacombe Lucien: The Screenplay

Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano | Translated by Sabine Destrée | Other Press | May 31, 2016

Patrick Modiano and Louis Malle’s screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film tells a powerful story set in World War II France of a seventeen-year-old boy who allies himself with collaborators, only to fall in love with a Jewish girl.

This early work by the Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano relates the story of Lucien Lacombe: a poor boy in Nazi-occupied France who, rebuffed in his efforts to enter the Resistance for a taste of war, becomes a member of a sordid, pathetic group of Fascist collaborators who join the Gestapo in preying upon their countrymen. Lucien encounters the Horns, a Jewish family from Paris hiding in his provincial town. Inevitably, he must choose between the coarse appeal of violence and his emerging feelings of tenderness for the family’s daughter, France. Amid the excesses brought on by the impending collapse of the Nazi occupation, Lucien and France come to live out an improbable idyll. This classic is an essential read for students and film lovers alike.

Louis Malle was a film director, screenwriter, and producer who worked both in French cinema and Hollywood. His most famous films include the crime film Elevator to the Gallows (1958), the World War II drama Lacombe Lucien (1974), the romantic crime film Atlantic City (1980), the comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), and the autobiographical film Au revoir, les enfants (1987). The Silent World won the Palme d’Or and Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1956. He died in 1995.

Patrick Modiano is a French novelist and recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. He previously won the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature, the 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca from the Institut de France for lifetime achievement, the 1978 Prix Goncourt for Rue des boutiques obscures, and the 1972 Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française for Les Boulevards de ceinture. His works have been translated into more than forty languages.

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