Washington, D.C. Premiere Between 1966 and 1995, France conducted more than 170 nuclear tests over the Pacific Ocean. The training and daily tasks aboard a French naval vessel in 1972 provide a rhythm to days that would otherwise drift into one another. Three teenage sailors perform forced push-ups in full gas masks amidst the sweltering heat. The commander is cruel and the boys’ only solace is in caring for the ship’s pet dog. Despite their blossoming friendships, the boys are unable to share what they have most in common – a sense of unshakable solitude. Even when they stop for shore leave at destinations of tropical paradise, the fun is bracketed by an insidious foreboding of things to come. As they watch the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion rise up in the distance over the ocean, they are completely ill equipped to grasp its significance. With solemn beauty, this film observes the social orders men set for themselves when separated from society, and the codes of killing and friendship that guide men in uniform. This is an idyll with a dark heart. (—Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival) Directed by Marion Hänsel.
Introduced by Roland Celette, Cultural Attaché and Director of La Maison Française, Embassy of France.
Shown with OF FORESTS AND MEN (France, 2011, 7 min.) The United Nations mandated Yann Arthus Bertrand to produce the official film for the launch of the International Year of Forests, 2011. Following the success of his film Home, seen by 400 million people, the photographer created a 7-minute short film on forests filled with aerial images from Home and the “Earth from Above” television series. Produced by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.