Just finished watching. Like Max said, if you come expecting a French WWI film, you're not going to get much there and what you get doesn't really hold water story wise - for example:
why bomb an empty bar when a full troop train is close at hand?
and the big fight scene looks like something barely better than high school theatrical. Not really sure where to file this one - it's not Oedipal. Jocasta complex maybe? But granted, it's only jealousy. Okay, enough of the creepy. To me, the point of the story, even if people only feared a war might be in the offing, is
chin up boys, she loves you and really wants to wait so if you don't hear from her, it's probably because the mail's screwed up,
but of course that's looking back some 80 years later. IDK, the family drama aspect is there, but not quite well-developed enough for my taste. Still, we get a story - tad weak, but relatable.
Where the film shines is the imagery. Beautiful shots. Framing that emphasizes and supports the emotion, fine acting, believable set design and costuming all work very much in the film's favor. While I knew the film premiered in 1939, that's about all I knew and I was dying to look up more information. Didn't find much in a quick search, but I understand it was completed in March of '39, so prior to the invasions (Poland AND France) but it was suppressed and ordered destroyed during the occupation. Absolutely wonderful that it was saved, restored, and we can see it now.
This is a great film for the 500<400 even if it isn't the greatest French film of the late 30s or something like that. Given the weakness of the story, I just couldn't quite make it to a seven, so I rated it six stars. Still, will be worthy of inclusion on my 500<400 ballot next year. Thanks Arthur!