A Very Long Engagement (2004) Movie Script

A VERY LONG ENGAGEMEN Saturday the 6th of January, 1917,
five condemned soldiers
were escorted to Bouchavesnes
at the Front in the Somme.
Watch out for the wire!
The first,
once cheerful and adventurous,
wore the tag number 2124.
He was drafted from the Seine area.
On his feet were boots,
taken from a dead German.
Before becoming 2124,
he was known as Bastoche
and was hooked on a pretty redhead,
a certain Vronique Passavant.
He was a carpenter.
Taking a break from his woodwork,
they'd go for a beer
at Little Louis' bar,
in Golden Hand St.
He'd taken his boots from an enemy
who no longer needed them.
Stuffed with straw or newspaper,
they replaced his old clodhoppers.
He was court-martialed
for self-mutilation.
Gunpowder had been found
on his wounded hand.
He faced the death sentence.
Watch out for the wire!
The second soldier
was tag number 4077,
also from near the Seine.
He was a welder
for the State Railways, in Bagneux.
His name was Francis Gaignard,
nicknamed Six-Sous.
He knew the poor build the canons
of their own destruction,
but it's the rich who sell them.
He tried
to explain it to the troops,
but he wasn't a good speaker.
And cheap wine,
poverty's best friend,
deadened the soldiers' eyes,
making it difficult
to get through to them.
Number 1 81 8 was surely the bravest
and the toughest of them all.
He had once
killed a fellow officer...
an officer who kicked the dead.
Get up!
You swines!
You lazy cowards!
You! Get up!
Attack! Attack!
You! Get going!
No one ever found out.
Benot Notre Dame was a farmer
from Dordogne.
One August morning,
they came to get him at his farm
and sent him off on a train.
Watch out for the wire!
The telephone wire is the only link
to the land of the living.
A flimsy wire, their only chance
for President Poincar's pardon.
Even if the only one
to still believe in it
is him.
Number 7328, recruited in Corsica.
Angel Bassignano.
According to all who'd known him,
he was no angel at all.
He was a liar, a cheat, a show-off,
a sneak and a troublemaker.
Before all this,
Tina Lombardi worked as his whore.
He'd received a 5-year sentence for
an affair of either love or honour,
depending on who he was talking to.
lt was, in fact, a conflict
between village pimps.
Summer 1916,
common-law criminals were enlisted
to beef up regiments
melted in the fires at Verdun.
They gave him the choice.
It's been shitting shells
round here!
No, it's been rather quiet.
Who are those for?
Well, actually...
you'll be attacking tomorrow.
We're getting a head start.
Watch out for the wire!
The fifth was a "Cornflower",
the nickname for the class of '17.
He was five months shy of 20.
These days, everything scared him.
French canons short-firing,
the wind that heralded
the mustard gas attacks,
executions to set an example.
He hadn't been like that before,
quite the opposite,
braving storms as he helped
lighthouse keepers.
And then came one shell too many.
There you go... The winning ticket
back to your fiance.
The ticket for a court-martial.
Turn a blind eye, Sarge.
He's been through enough.
They could execute him.
- Be human for once.
- Shut up!
Please, Sarge!
Shut up!
The first time
Mathilde and Manech made love,
he fell asleep,
his hand on her breast.
Each time his wound throbs,
Manech feels Mathilde's heart
in his palm.
Each beat brings her closer to him.
lf Manech were dead,
Mathilde would know.
Since the death notice,
she stubbornly holds on to her
intuition, like to a flimsy wire.
She never gets discouraged.
And Mathilde
is of a cheerful disposition.
lf that wire doesn't lead her
to her lover, never mind...
she can always use it as a noose.
ln June 1920, Mathilde received
a letter from a nun.
A patient at the Rennes hospital
wants to see her.
He'd met Manech in January '17
at the Front in the Somme.
August 1912.
Handsome, wasn't l?
It's a De Dion,
with direct drive.
Please, tell me about Manech.
ln January '17,
I escorted five condemned soldiers.
He was one of them...
l was to take them
to a front-line trench.
Gendarmes were waiting
with the prisoners
near a bombed-out cemetery.
What are you doing
with those German boots?
What for?
Poincar's pardon? You'll wait!
He'll sign it!
l shouldn't
even have been condemned.
I'm Corsican, not French!
Leave him be.
He's lost it,
but that's for the best.
Finished, Lieutenant?
The cold has saved that one.
Gangrene would've got him
in summer.
And Manech?
Was he in pain?
They had to cut off two fingers,
but he wasn't suffering anymore.
l led them to a trench,
called "Bingo Crpuscule".
Bloody hell!
Couldn't you have lost them
on your way?
A kick in the ass
to get rid of them!
My orders
are to bring you these five.
And l'll tell you my orders!
l'm to throw these guys over the top
and leave them to die like dogs
between our line and the Jerries'!
Those are my damned orders,
You see, Sergeant, with the Jerries,
there's a kind of status quo.
It's a little too calm?
Let's start the fireworks
and watch all hell let loose!
Soup, guys!
You're lucky, it's still warm.
Beetroot and fennel.
What can I get for you?
A large hot chocolate
and some bread with honey.
I'd kill my parents to get you that!
Do you mind, Lieutenant?
He's an orphan!
He'll get it. Clestin Poux
is the "Mess Hall Marauder",
the "Kitchen Raider".
Fifteen minutes later,
he came back with it all.
Salted Gurande butter,
lavender honey,
cocoa from Nigeria!
Tell me, Cornflower,
you've no one to write to?
A fiance?
Her name is Mathilde.
l hear her heart beating,
like Morse code.
We're engaged.
Luckily, we won't have to wait
till the end of the war.
Now I can go straight home
after the execution.
Should l spare you the rest?
l'm lame, not dim.
What happened?
We opened the barbed wire
and equipped the five
against the cold.
Clestin Poux gave up a red woolen
glove to protect your fianc's hand.
Are they far?
Too far for grenades,
too near for artillery.
Gas is out of the question.
The gasser always gets it!
Think they'll make it?
If they're not blown to bits,
they'll starve and freeze.
Either way, it'll amuse the Jerries.
A Corporal gave Bastoche,
the carpenter, a hug.
lt was Corporal Gordes.
They clearly knew each other
before the war.
And then,
over they went.
- Shit...
- Shut up.
- Shit!
- Shut up!
September '14.
1 50 pound weight, easy!
And I wasn't at my best!
But that morning,
in January '17,
was Manech still alive?
At dawn,
Favart called out their names.
Apart from the Dordogne farmer,
they all replied.
What now?
Yeah, still here!
The Cornflower,
hide yourself better.
Notre Dame!
That's all l know.
l wrote up my report
with a heavy heart.
About time, Esperanza! The Brits
are replacing us, we're off.
So, Bingo-thingy?
What's that?
The condemned prisoners' list,
signed by Capt. Favourier.
Give it to me.
Don't just stand there like that.
This isn't Pompeii!
You've been promoted.
You're off to the Vosges.
Even so, Sir,
this expedition is going to be
hard to swallow.
Lucky you.
Where you're going, there's
mustard gas and throat lozenges.
The famous Vosges sweets.
A few months later,
l was wounded, in the Somme.
l ended up in the same ambulance
as Chardolot,
a corporal from Bingo Crpuscule.
But he only had
a few days left to live.
It's me. Esperanza.
Bingo Crpuscule, remember?
Sorry, l don't recognize you.
The five thrown over
into no-man's-land,
what happened to them?
What do you think?
No one made it.
Your conscience bothering you,
You should've stuck around.
You'd have seen capital Ms,
underwear being waved
and a flying albatross.
You're delirious with fever!
We sent over five men
and recovered five stiffs.
My eyes are gone but I can imagine
your expression and l like it.
He really spoke of capital Ms
and an albatross?
And underwear.
Here you go, Miss.
ln here
are the prisoners' belongings
I was to return to their families.
My health's prevented it.
That's the letter
the Dordogne farmer, Notre Dame,
wrote to his wife.
l sent the original
just after Bingo.
You're here
because of the mustard gas?
Not even. Damned Spanish flu!
Death moves in mysterious ways.
If you can't cry, try talking.
lf you can't talk, say nothing.
But sometimes,
talking can bring on the tears.
Tears say what you can't say,
if you get my drift?
you can just keep that sour-face!
Little Louis,
tell Vro l'm thinking of her.
Shame she won't talk to me.
Saw Biscuit, we patched things up.
Adieu, my friend. Bastoche.
"Benot Notre Dame, number 1 81 8.
l won't be writing for a long time."
Tell old Bernay
l want to settle up by March.
His manure's too costly,
watch out for him.
Tell my Baptistin that l so love
that he'll be fine
if he listens to his dear mother.
She's the kindest person l know.
Love you. Benot.
"For Tina Lombardi,
from Angel Bassignano."
lf Chickpea comes in before
dinner's called, Manech is alive.
l'm not hungry.
Dinner's ready.
Mathilde, dinner!
Mathilde was born
the 1st of January, 1900.
lt's easy for calculating her age.
ln 1903, her parents died
in the n 44 bus accident.
Since then,
Mathilde often says to herself,
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust!
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."
Her uncle and aunt,
Sylvain and Bndicte,
have raised her,
with her parents' life insurance
invested by Pierre-Marie Rouvire.
When she was five,
Mathilde came down with polio.
She was bedridden for months,
despite mustard compresses...
and four-leaf clover infusions.
Today, Mathilde is twenty.
She plays the tuba.
lt is the only instrument capable
of imitating a distress call.
Chickpea, the dog,
farts in his sleep.
When she hears it,
Bndicte never fails to say,
Doggie fart, gladdens my heart.
Mathilde needs daily treatment.
Since the Armistice, Georges Cornu,
a swimming champion,
massages her.
She used to get embarrassed,
but she got over it.
Mathilde sometimes imagines
that Georges admires her,
tormented with desire.
What's more, he once said,
You do have a fine figure, Miss.
And I've kneaded quite a few.
After that,
how should she call him?
Dear Georges...
My dear Georges...
before falling asleep,
she imagines herself
in arousing situations.
Mathilde doesn't need
to fantasize for very long
before reaching fulfilment.
Since his disappearance,
she can't bear to think about her
fianc as she satisfies herself.
That's the way it is...
If I were you, Mathilde,
l'd forget him.
Why chase pipe dreams?
lf he was alive,
you'd have heard from him.
He was taken prisoner.
And stayed with a German girl
with braids and big boobs!
A Breton boy eating sauerkraut!
- Can l help?
- Keep your feet on the ground.
l stand on my own two feet!
- What?
- Never mind.
l heard you anyway.
But your dreams don't stand up.
can't have been taken at Bingo.
Our men took the trench facing it.
Normally, it's the winners
who take prisoners.
So he's lost his mind.
Or he's in hiding,
to avoid hard labour.
Stop dreaming, Mathilde!
Face up to it.
You'll find a husband, despite...
Something's off-key.
l'll find the "Mess Hall Marauder",
Clestin Poux.
What can l get for you?
Or the Corsican's whore.
She might know more than me.
Tomorrow, l go to Paris.
What for?
To find a survivor
from Bingo Crpuscule.
Germain Pire, Private Detective
The Peerless Pry
I'm used to handling
red-hot affairs.
l've a cupboard full.
Scandals that would've been
brushed under the carpet...
brought to light by Pire's prying.
Take this big affair...
very delicate.
ln '17, a train derails.
425 soldiers on leave, dead.
The enquiry reveals how
an officer ordered the departure,
despite faulty brakes.
A total cover-up
by Poincar's government.
The victims' families only hope
of finding the officer?
Germain Pire!
The Peerless Pry.
Peerless, Miss.
I found their officer,
to the military's great displeasure.
Granted, he was dead and buried.
l'll just pack my bags and be on
my way to track down Poux Clestin
and the Corsican's fiance.
And your fees, Mr. Peerless Pry?
The Pry only bleeds dry
sitting ducks, Miss.
For you, I can do...
20 francs a day.
Plus expenses, of course.
Why so kind?
Hlne, come and say hello.
Don't worry about expenses.
Germain Pire eats little,
doesn't drink and tips sparingly.
Notre Dame de Paris?
Not Notre Dame de Paris!
l'm calling from Paris
about Notre Dame Benot!
Benot Notre Dame!
A strapping,
good-hearted farmer.
Died for his country.
I've lost many a parishioner.
Are his wife and Baptistin
still there?
Miss Minet, I can't hear a thing!
No. She upped and left one day,
with no forwarding address.
ls that a choir l hear?
Of course, it's a choir!
We are in a church, Miss!
But that's no hymn at your end!
Thank you, Father. Goodbye.
Bingo Crpuscule!
I can't make head nor tail of it!
I thought you liked defending
lost causes.
Your impertinence
was charming at 10, not at 20!
Then start taking me seriously.
You're wasting your money
on a grotesque crusade!
Bingo Crpuscule!
Why not Yippee doodle-doo?
I want access to army archives.
Let's say
there's an ounce of truth in this.
lf one man has survived,
he risks hard labour!
And you know it!
Your prying would put him
in great danger!
Be reasonable.
Your parents entrusted me...
"Ashes to ashes..."
That's just it.
They entrusted you
with my happiness.
Thank you, Pierre-Marie.
Don't be like that,
my dear Mathilde.
I'm thinking of your future.
Sorry to see your health's worsened,
despite the massages.
I'll see what l can do.
It doesn't only happen in Lourdes!
I'm looking for Tina Lombardi.
l knew her when she was little...
Ladies, l'm Tina Lombardi's uncle
and l'd like to know...
Excuse me...
l look after
the Lombardi family's interests
and I'm looking for Tina.
She's come into some money.
You're the one
looking for Tina Lombardi?
Well, actually...
Ever been to Corsica?
Very pretty, very picturesque.
But Tina's walking the street
somewhere else.
a highly-placed member of the Police
picked up her trail in Bar-Le-Duc.
Valentina Emilia Maria Lombardi,
aka Tina,
was registered in 1916
near the 23rd regiment's camp
of Marseilles.
Since the Armistice,
the chick has flown the coop!
I've lost her trail,
but I've been busy.
She's disappeared into thin air.
So, you're giving up.
Not at all.
Pire never admits defeat.
Pire is stubborn.
Pire's peer doesn't exist.
Perfect! Thank you.
Just a little bit.
Not my eyes.
Careful with that!
What can l get you?
This is my fianc.
And him,
the carpenter...
l think you know him.
My throat's dry.
- "Good glass of wine..."
- "Keeps the doctor in line."
My great-aunt's motto.
Died in 1911 in Besanon,
she was 99.
Never sick a day...
Good luck.
Touch wood.
The war?
A hyena in the Botanical Gardens.
I was showing off, stroking it.
Bastoche and Biscuit made this.
His best friend. They met in 1910
during the floods,
saving a lady's life.
Bastoche was talented
but Biscuit... a genius.
A magician with a chisel!
He pegged all the articulations.
This is for you.
tell Vro I'm thinking of her.
"Shame she won't talk to me.
"Saw Biscuit, we patched things up.
"Adieu, my friend. Bastoche."
To patch things up means
they'd argued. You know why?
A mystery.
They went through hell together,
the Marne, the Wovre, the Somme...
Then one day, and who knows why,
they stopped talking.
Biscuit was transferred.
He died
in a military hospital bombing.
I'm glad they finally
patched things up.
They won't be queuing up outside,
Pour me one?
She's thirsty!
A wooden hand, a heart of gold.
To love.
True love!
But who was Vro?
Vronique Passavant.
His regular, his woman.
They often came in together.
Why would they have argued?
He may have strayed
and she wouldn't forgive him.
There you go. '17, this way.
What exactly are the red files?
Secret defence.
You need a mandate
from someone high up.
Of course, they're upstairs!
Go and help him.
Let's say
you were someone high up...
then you could give us the mandate.
lf l thought like that,
l wouldn't be an officer.
Consider yourself lucky
you've been allowed in.
It usually takes months.
lt looks tidy
but it's really a mess.
So, the Somme...
The Bouchavesnes sector,
trench 1 08.
What a state...
Look at this. Appalling!
May l help?
Thank you for replying favourably
to the General...
We're very good friends.
two friends of mine died there.
the battles in that trench...
Paris wasn't much better.
Couldn't even find a taxi
after the opera.
So l heard!
We'd like information on trench 108.
Posting slips, trenches 104, 105.
Trench 107. Where's 106?
Trench 108.
How annoying,
it's written on both sides!
Trench 108.
"Dug by the Germans,
taken by us in 1916 and renamed
"Bingo Crpuscule."
Why not Yippee doodle-doo?
"January 6th, nothing to report.
"The 7th, heavy combat with losses.
"Killed in action:
Capt. Favourier, history teacher.
"Lt Benot Estrangin,
insurance agent.
Certain losses
are filed confidential.
Confidential? You mean...
Can't you...
Sorry, we can't look any further.
Not even the General.
Thank you for the time you've taken.
You're welcome.
Nothing here of interest.
Posting slips, commissary bills.
The routine.
I assumed as much.
lt was to be expected.
You've gone too far!
l do hope this paper
wasn't filed secret defence!
You must tell me if it's important.
lt's nothing.
Just a leave.
From the President?
That's right.
President Poincar
sometimes granted a leave
to a deserving soldier.
End of story!
I'll see you out.
Corporal Bouquet Klber...
Corporal Gaignard Francis...
Private Notre Dame Benot...
Private Bassignano Angel...
Private Langonnet Manech...
For self-mutilation,
you are sentenced to death.
lf, before the count of 7,
the train hasn't entered the tunnel,
or the ticket inspector hasn't come,
Manech is dead!
1, 2, 3,
4, 5, 6...
Ticket, please!
April fool!
When the newspaper strike is over,
we can place your ad.
"Reward for information concerning
Bingo Crpuscule."
Encouraging her
won't bring back her appetite.
Take her to the Quimper Fair.
What for?
A change of scenery.
You might meet a nice boy.
What for?
To get married and have children.
Tell her!
Can you pour me one?
You drink now?
"Glass of wine
keeps the doctor in line."
Where's that from?
Dead-Hand barman
with a wooden hand.
His aunt's motto. Died at a hundred,
in Besanon, 1911.
Repeat that?
In Besanon, in 1911,
a 99 year-old lady left behind
a wooden-handed nephew,
owner of the Dead-Hand bar,
in Golden Hand St,
to whom she often said
what Sylvain just asked me.
She's already drunk!
An albatross is stubborn.
He knows he can outlast the wind.
Hey, my gravel!
My gravel!
Vronique Passavant,
17th of July, 1920.
l'm writing from Little Louis' bar.
He told me about you.
l must tell you about an encounter
which left me quite shaken up.
l headed for Bastoche's workshop.
l was feeling down.
I want to talk to Bastoche.
He died. At the Front in the Somme.
Didn't you know?
l know something else.
From the hospital,
where l care for dying syphilitics,
a patient sends you this.
If you don't want to die, covered
with oozing sores, answer me!
The comrade hiding
with your Bastoche...
Tell me...
tell me he's Corsican.
l was already traumatized by nuns
when l was little!
Tina Lombardi
knows something we don't.
The Lombardi girl...
she knows something we don't.
That would prove
Bastoche had escaped.
With another condemned prisoner.
That hussy obviously thinks
it's her Angel.
But if Bastoche had escaped,
he'd have looked out for Manech.
If he escaped...
Give me that.
With "ifs",
a flea could carry an elephant.
But without "ifs",
might as well hang myself.
Thanks to you, l spend my time
picking gravel out of the lawn!
When I see gravel, I make it a point
of arriving in style.
For the Miss.
Leprince Hardware,
Paris, 25th of July, 1920.
Sunday lends itself to writing.
l'm replying regarding
Clestin Poux and other survivors
from Bingo Crpuscule.
l knew the fellow.
The smartest thief l ever met.
Thanks to him,
l never went without!
Olivier Nergeton,
Animated Toys.
Clestin Poux was our salvation,
aka the Mess Hall Marauder
or Justa Bit More.
He falsified losses,
making up numbers
to give double rations.
lf you should see him,
tell him we'll never forget him.
Etienne Morillon, teacher,
3rd of August, 1920.
He always had us laughing.
He had even trained
the company's mascot for us!
Good morning. What weather!
Germain Pire, private detective.
Mathilde has spoken of you.
Tell Mathilde to come down.
That Mr. Pry is here to see her.
Poux's been hopping around.
Two days in Dreux,
then Troyes, Castre,
five days in Ste.
It'll take luck and patience
to land him.
Too bad.
Hlne, some savoury biscuits.
Taste them.
Tell me what you think.
The kitchen's more comfortable.
Thank you, Bndicte.
l'll leave you.
Poux can't stay in one place,
whereas Tina Lombardi...
she's got us running in circles.
I know.
And she's the queen of disguise.
Anything new on Biscuit?
That's Benjamin Gordes.
The day he won
the Carpentry Prize
for the sixth consecutive year.
That's right.
Bastoche's best friend,
is none other than Benjamin Gordes.
A soldier from their company
said they were like brothers
before it went sour.
- Why won't you tell me?
- Stop it!
Tell me!
l don't want to fight you,
so stop it!
Why won't you talk?
Whose idea was it?
No, it was your idea!
lt was his idea!
All because of a woman!
Vronique Passavant
finished with Bastoche in June '16.
And just after, he fought like
a mad dog with Benjamin Gordes.
Don't need to be Pythagoras!
They didn't meet again
before Bingo Crpuscule?
Where it all ended!
No, where it all begins, Mr. Pire.
Where it all begins...
Tina Lombardi is sure
Bastoche is alive.
What made him different
from the others that evening?
He was the only carpenter?
Something made Bastoche
different from the others.
His German boots!
He was the only one
with German boots!
Of course. You're right!
Tina Lombardi's discovered that
a man with German boots survived!
l bet he was seen with a comrade!
I saw two soldiers
who looked like tramps.
One wore boots taken from a Jerry.
He was holding up the other.
We also know Bastoche had patched
things up with his best friend!
Did it change the course of events
that night?
lf l don't break the peel,
Gordes managed to save
Bastoche and Manech.
I'm never going to get that pie
in the oven!
I must go back to Paris.
That money's going up in smoke.
"Ashes to ashes..."
Pilot fish!
Excuse me, Elodie Gordes?
Over there, selling carrots.
Thank you.
Never seen him!
Which one don't you know?
Him, by any chance?
Why did Bastoche and Biscuit argue?
Was it over you?
I have nothing to say!
- l want to know!
- Leave me alone!
They last met at Bingo Crpuscule.
My fianc was also there.
With Bastoche.
ln that shithole of a trench!
l want to understand.
l want to understand!
lt's not what you think.
I can't talk about it.
Give me your address.
My spelling's terrible
but I'll explain it all in a letter.
l promise.
Go ahead! My gravel!
Nothing for me?
Nothing for me?
Just the newspaper.
They talk about everything
except Elodie Gordes.
Very funny!
You should read it,
one can learn things!
Has the President opened an inquest
on Bingo Crpuscule?
He might have done,
if he hadn't fallen from a train
in his pyjamas.
Well, he wears pyjamas!
He wears pyjamas!
We recovered five stiffs.
We knew you were a thief.
But a pyromaniac?
All for me?
No. Just this one.
lf l'm not picking up gravel,
l'm picking up the postman!
The gravel's gone? A fair fight.
Fighting is never fair.
- Can l offer you a short one?
- Won't say no.
Miss, l beg you to keep my secret
to yourself.
When l met my husband,
he already had four children.
None were his.
Out of kindness,
he'd married a widow with TB.
She was Polish, like me.
He adopted her children
before her death.
l was also an unmarried mother.
He then found himself
the father of five,
though he couldn't have any
of his own.
You're going to run me over!
We had four years of tenderness.
We had plans.
We dreamt
of seeing the sea together.
Then the war came.
l thought Bastoche
would take care of him,
their being posted together.
But during his leave,
in September, 1915,
just after the battle of Artois,
l knew
nothing would ever be the same.
Over there,
it's all we have to keep going.
Once, in a burning field,
I saw some comrades...
Their cartridge belts
exploded like fireworks.
Once, we even had to use
the body of a friend
as a shield.
There had been something
on his mind.
He came out with it
on the second night.
If I desert, the gendarmes
will come and get me.
My only way out
is to have a sixth child.
If you have six children,
they send you home.
As l said,
he couldn't have children.
l didn't dare think
what was on his mind,
but he just wouldn't let it go.
It's not betrayal if I'm asking you.
Especially if it's with Bastoche.
Don't touch!
The five aren't mine,
so why not a sixth?
You'd have nine months to wait.
The war will be over by then.
lt will never be over. Never!
They'd be nine months of hope.
Have you no heart?
And then one day, l found a note
from Klber Bouquet,
known as Bastoche,
saying to tie a coloured cloth at
the window if he wasn't to come up.
I'd love some!
- After you.
- Please.
Thank you.
No, thank you.
lt's mother of pearl?
Yes, Benjamin made it.
- lt's odd...
- How strange we never met.
The children aren't here?
Yes, but...
they're playing outside.
- A pick-me-up?
- Please.
No, no... Sorry.
l don't fancy one.
Neither do I.
Elodie, we'll say we've done it.
It'll calm him down.
It will make things easier
for you, for me...
for everybody.
Funny how your smile
opens the parentheses.
l'll close them
as late as possible...
ln two days, at the train station.
Come on...
give me one last smile.
To close the parentheses.
l didn't even get pregnant!
But soon, fear no longer tormented
my husband.
lt was jealousy.
"Where? When? Often?
Which positions?"
"Did you enjoy it?" lt became
a living hell for both of us.
Now, Bastoche is dead,
as you know,
and my husband was killed
in a hospital bombing.
lt's a relief to confide in you.
At times, l think l'm going mad.
Elodie Gordes.
Matti! Hurry up.
Mr. Rouvire is on the phone.
He's waiting.
Come on!
Mathilde? Pierre-Marie here.
l have some bad news.
Not really bad... News you're
already supposed to know.
But news you can no longer ignore.
You were right about one thing...
Manech and his four comrades
were in that absurdly named trench.
They were buried
in the Herdelin cemetery,
after being temporarily buried
under a tarpaulin in a bomb crater.
That's that, my dear Mathilde.
ln June, 1909,
Mathilde is 9 years old.
Manech Langonnet is 10.
Does it hurt when you walk?
lt's Friday, or Saturday...
Mathilde can't remember.
Do you have any friends?
l can be your friend.
Do I stink of fish?
Ever been
to the top of the lighthouse?
l can carry you
to the top of the stairs.
Because my dad's the keeper!
Be stuck-up then! Church mouse!
Country bumpkin!
Do you want a kick in the pants?
Can you see far from the top?
I'm going to gobble up your ears!
l'll throw you in the dungeon!
l am the squid's servant!
Doggie fart, gladdens my heart!
Manech's Marrying Mathilde!
Mathilde's Marrying Manech!
- l don't smoke.
- l know, but take it...
lt'll help you make new friends.
lf l reach the bend before the car,
Manech will come back alive!
lf l reach the bend...
lf l reach the bend
before the car...
Manech will come back alive...
lf l reach the bend...
You used to brag
about being one year older than me.
Now l'm older than you.
The man who gave you his glove
is called Poux.
Clestin Poux.
Funny, isn't it?
The man l hired to find him is Pire.
Germain Pire.
Strange name, too.
Either way, he hasn't found him.
Nor the Corsican's whore.
The wire's snapped, Manech,
but I'm not giving up.
l still believe
that Tina Lombardi's a lead.
I need to be sure.
You understand, right?
That's why
I must find Clestin Poux.
You can be really annoying,
you know.
We would be
so much better in Brittany.
Let's go, Mathilde.
You'll catch cold.
What do you want?
Who are you?
Was it you who phoned?
Who are you?
The days go by.
Still no news of Clestin Poux.
Mathilde's sadness is overwhelming.
She must eat.
She's making herself ill.
Leave her the marrowbone.
Her sadness is beginning
to rub off on us.
And so,
in the middle of the night
on the 1 5th of September, 1920,
the wire is re-tied.
I've finally found the roaming Poux.
"Sent by the grace of God
and Davidson motors.
"All expenses paid, of course.
Germain Pire."
Clestin Poux, Terror of the Tarmac!
The ad was yours?
Mathilde tightly clasps her hands,
to keep from shaking and crying
and making a fool of herself.
I didn't actually see
your fianc get hit.
l went to get the stew
and ran into Lebgue,
a guy l met in the Vosges.
A native of the Meuse.
Or rather a nave of the Meuse.
Even so, he could tell good coffee
from a stomach remedy.
l know. I tried to sell him
a mixture of coffee and charcoal
in exchange for
some Dutch tobacco.
So, the last time you saw Manech,
he was alive?
You couldn't miss him.
Carving Ms on a burnt tree trunk,
smack in the middle
of no-man's-land.
He carved three Ms
before the albatross got him.
"Great sweeping sea bird,
"indolent traveling companion,
"gliding with ships
"upon bitter deep."
lt's a poem by Baudelaire.
lt was also a Jerry bomber.
The machine gun was at the rear.
We couldn't shoot yet
through the propeller.
It was you who gave him the glove?
A thick woolen red one.
My fiance spent her time
knitting scarves and mittens for me.
l traded them
with frostbitten Senegalese
in exchange for Germans' gold teeth.
l melted them down
after the Armistice.
They paid for my Harley.
are you sure Manech's dead?
A comrade told me,
with a wound like that...
he didn't stand a chance.
I only saw three of them get killed
with my own eyes.
I surrender!
Don't shoot!
l beg you! l surrender!
Let me through!
I'm on your side!
l'm not French, I'm Corsican!
l've nothing against you!
Poor bastard.
So, he's not French!
Let's cancel his birth certificate.
A French corporal dealt with him...
Thouvenel. A trigger-happy swine!
He had a heart made of stone,
but a sharp eye.
Poor bastard!
l guess you like it.
I'd kill my parents for a good stew!
Don't worry, he's an orphan.
The same goes for truffles.
lf you like truffles,
I have one from Prigord...
Which ones did you see die?
The one with gangrene.
Yes, the welder.
Before dying...
I have a final request.
I want to piss standing up.
Like a man!
And then, you can fire away
to your heart's content!
So long to life, so long to love
So long to all those women
lt's all over
Done forever
This shameful war
At Craonne, on the plateau
That's where we'll leave our skins
For we've all been sentenced
We are the sacrificed
And Bastoche?
He was so well hidden,
we couldn't locate him.
Even at dawn,
when he answered roll call,
no one knew where he was.
A ventriloquist!
No, he was a carpenter.
No matter.
He was shot down by the Albatross,
along with your fianc.
The Albatross caught fire
and crashed on the enemy line.
Return to sender.
What about the Dordogne farmer?
He played dead from the beginning.
Not that it saved him.
The Jerries didn't appreciate
the grenade.
Don't look!
lt'll only make it worse.
When l got back with the stew,
bullets were flying everywhere.
Heavy shelling had begun.
Damn! No one can imagine
what it's like.
Can't move your legs, your heart
beats like a scared animal.
Then l saw the Dordogne farmer
shatter into pieces.
before we're all slaughtered.
Prepare bayonets!
All that was nothing
compared to what followed.
For France!
We'd passed
the five prisoners bodies
when the Jerry machine guns
started spitting bullets.
We were wiped out!
That Lavrouye bastard!
He kept the paper to himself.
What paper?
That's all he said.
That evening, there was enough food
to feed an army.
Favart and Chardolot
were counting losses.
Why do those five
show up on our battalion list?
We're only following orders.
Something stinks here.
Something stinks?
Lavrouye stinks.
This food doesn't.
Dig in before it gets cold.
It's cold!
So you only saw
three of them get killed.
With your own eyes.
False hope
will only make you suffer.
They're not false!
You'll taste my cake?
l don't know if I should.
With a bit of fresh cream.
If you insist...
l like people
who appreciate my food.
I'll put her to bed.
Let's all get some sleep.
Slow down!
You lack control, no style...
You're better at raking
than skidding!
Hey, Postman! l'll drop you off
at the next letterbox.
And my bike?
Leave it to me. I fought in the war!
I don't have a desk job.
It's not my fault. I'm asthmatic!
An asthmatic who rides a bike!
- By the sea.
- Sure, by the sea!
Clestin, it's not a sidecar.
Those men, they never grow up...
As long as they don't play soldiers.
"Tell old Bernay... settle up by
March. His manure's too costly..."
He wouldn't write such trivialities.
Don't you agree?
There must be a code.
Except lovers' codes
can't be cracked with brains
or divine intervention.
And Bastoche?
lf he was seen with his German
boots, he must have survived.
Not so, Miss.
Gordes didn't let him go over
the top with those boots.
If the Jerries see these,
they'll know
you've stripped one of their dead.
So Tina Lombardi's
on the wrong track.
The one with the boots
wasn't Bastoche.
It was Gordes!
That's right, Miss!
He was with a boy,
from the class of '17...
l'd met some stretcher-bearers
who'd just passed them.
Are you from Bingo?
Might be.
Tell them Gordes is wounded.
- He's with a boy who's worse off.
- Desrochelles.
- They're off to first-aid.
- With German boots!
Long Live Anarchy!
What's happened, Matti?
What did l say?
Open up!
Be reasonable.
- What did you do?
- Nothing.
You've known he's dead
for three years.
l call that stubbornness.
No, l call that hope.
Poux has just killed it.
lf l can do anything...
You can.
Take me to Bingo Crpuscule.
An lndian princess on her elephant.
With her hunters,
on the Trail of Sorrow.
It was there!
Right there!
At a hundred yards, facing Bingo,
was Erlangen, the Jerry trench.
Where's the burnt tree trunk?
All the stumps and debris
were used to fill in the trenches.
We found the five over there,
under a tarpaulin,
covered with earth.
- Not a pretty sight.
- No doubt!
The youngest was only a boy.
Was he wearing a glove?
A red, woolen glove?
They all had
one bandaged hand, but...
nothing on the other.
I can't remember seeing a glove.
I don't like him digging like that.
Around here,
you never know what junk
you might come across,
that can blow off an arm or a leg.
It's the crypt!
There was a chapel
between the two trenches.
lt was in ruins.
l don't recognize a thing.
Could Manech have lost the glove
as he fell?
It was tightly knitted
and tightly fitted.
I used the other one in the kitchens
until the end of the war.
Maybe he took it off to carve?
I couldn't say.
But I don't think so.
What sort of red was it? Bright red?
A flashy red.
With white dots.
Looked like maggots on an apple!
Sorry to disturb you like this.
My husband's family
suffered greatly in the war.
I didn't want to go over
to a French soldier's table
in front of him.
What can you tell me?
Before dying, my brother Gunther
saw your fianc carve
those three letters on a tree.
He was wearing a red, spotted glove.
A comrade of Gunther's
told me the story.
When our plane
shot down your fianc,
they were sick to the stomach.
After that,
it was a nightmare.
God spared
that French soldier twice.
Then... your side attacked.
They killed my brother.
He was 23 years old.
I came to see his cross
at the cemetery.
I'm sorry.
Time heals all. You'll see.
I'll get back,
he'll be getting worried.
Seems l haven't killed it.
What now?
Tina Lombardi.
She's going to the guillotine!
They call her the "Officer Killer".
She's killed Lavrouye and Thouvenel.
And planned to kill Marchal Ptain.
When I think you sat in a wheelchair
to soften me up!
I'll talk only to you,
because I know we're very similar.
We'll leave them alone.
What I did,
you could've done, too.
l don't think so.
I'd be too scared.
I'm not scared.
And l regret nothing.
Except my hair.
I'll be treated to a bowl-cut
before the execution.
I'll look like Joan of Arc
when I see my Angel!
Why did you want to kill Ptain?
Throwing mutilated soldiers
over the top was his idea.
Why not Poincar?
He refused them a pardon.
You don't know?
He did pardon them.
All five!
lt's just a leave.
Lavrouye kept the paper for himself.
Why did that dog Lavrouye do that?
Because dirty dogs play dirty.
That's all.
Trust me on this.
l took care of him!
You and I have been running
the same investigation.
Each in our own way.
Looking for survivors from Bingo,
I picked up a male nurse
who'd treated Angel and the others.
This guy, Phillipot,
was sure he'd seen one of them.
A big man, with a head wound.
He was a big man.
Head wound, German boots...
He wore German boots and
was carrying a thin-built soldier.
l think that's about right.
l'm even sure of it.
A big man, head wound...
His superior told him
to keep his mouth shut.
You can imagine
how overwhelmed with hope l was.
And then, l met the man
who shattered my dreams.
Chief Sergeant Favart.
He told me how that pig Thouvenel
had shot my Angel, just like that!
Like taking a leak.
l took care of him, too!
lt was an obsession.
Kill all those who hurt my man.
Your Angel left you this.
"Vengeance is pointless.
Try to be happy,
"and don't ruin your life for me.
"Your Angel from Hell."
Departure for Paris,
Platform 2.
Gordes, the one who switched boots
with Bastoche...
was he big?
Biscuit? He was no athlete.
Just a guy like you or me.
And you have no news
of Desrochelles?
He didn't make friends easily.
He lived alone with his mother.
l must go. I'm boarding in an hour
for Venezuela.
Good luck, Clestin!
To you too!
When I think
you hid Poincar's pardon!
l didn't want to throw salt
on the wound.
I'd like one last favour.
I suppose it concerns Bingo-thingy?
Son of bookseller,
Desrochelles Paul,
born in Sarreguemines,
died in February, 1897...
That's it, Desrochelles Jean!
ln Saintes.
In the Charentes.
Tell me, Mr. Pire, Tina Lombardi...
You had an inkling
of what she was up to.
Luckily, your paths didn't cross.
He who pries, flies,
when danger lurks.
He who pries, pries,
but, from a distance.
I've a new lead for you.
Jean Desrochelles. Evacuated from
the Front on the 7th of January '17.
His only next of kin was his mother,
the widow Desrochelles.
She lives at 22 rue de l'Abbaye.
Saintes, in the Charentes.
All the work's been done!
You've tried to reach me?
My brother's comrade,
the one l told you about...
He remembered something
that might interest you.
The two French soldiers
escorting him that morning,
wanted to go back through
They saw the prisoners' bodies.
One was in a kind of small cellar.
The French soldiers
seemed surprised.
I don't know if that can help you.
Thank you.
"Tell old Bernay
l want to settle up by March.
"His manure's too costly,
watch out for him."
"His manure's too costly..."
There must be a code.
Your Mr. Pry called!
He's run into a dead-end in Saintes.
I know!
Hello! Go ahead.
Yes, Miss. I remember you.
Old Bernay? No, never heard of him.
Benot Notre Dame
used the manure from his animals.
He never bought it!
Thank you, Father.
l must decode this letter.
I think we're getting hot.
Will be - Bernay - March
Sell - Everything
Say - Nothing
Listen - No one
Excuse me,
the "End of the World" farm?
The last house
at the end of the road.
And if he doesn't come?
He'll come, don't worry.
Come back in two hours.
Hello, Mathilde.
It's dangerous
to want to bring back the dead.
When l saw your ad in the paper,
l knew, in time,
the gendarmes would come.
Don't worry.
l had the chance
to do away with you...
l let it go.
We knew you were a thief.
But a pyromaniac?
I couldn't kill you.
Now, even the rabbits and chickens,
my wife has to do it.
The war's taken it out of me.
You know what l want to hear.
Is he alive?
The last time l saw him,
he wasn't doing well.
But he's stronger than he looks.
Don't stay together.
When things calmed down,
I tried to get some sleep.
- Gaignard!
- You think we're at the whorehouse?
- Bouquet!
- What now?
Notre Dame?
Then the pimp tried to surrender.
And the welder
from Paris was killed.
Your fianc started carving
on the tree.
the Jerries' Albatross arrived.
l came to,
when the ground started shaking.
I don't know what happened.
l just saw that trapdoor
the shell had half-opened.
For France!
They entered no-man's-land.
At the second German line,
the machine guns got them.
A few hours later,
a voice woke me.
My God! Bastoche is dead!
We can't leave him here.
We'll come back.
He's not going anywhere.
Bastoche is dead.
Look, this one's still moving.
It's the Cornflower.
He's a goner as well.
A shell had ripped the door off.
One of the guys arrived,
in bad shape.
Bastoche is dead!
We're all going to die.
l recognized Bastoche's friend.
The one who'd taken
his German boots.
After eating, l smoked his tobacco.
Then, l heard more voices.
Let's go look over there.
Look here!
Damn it!
lt's not the Cornflower.
What's he doing in there?
Where's the Dordogne farmer?
- l'm cold.
- Don't worry.
He was really messed up,
but your fianc wanted to live.
I saw it in his eyes.
l put him on my shoulders
and set off through the trench.
He was burning with fever.
l felt the heat on my back.
And he was delirious.
Spoke of a heart
beating in his hand.
Hey, Corporal!
Only 500 yards to the hospital.
Want us to put your friend
on the stretcher?
No, thanks.
lf you see any officers from Bingo,
tell them Corporal Gordes has gone
to the hospital with Desrochelles.
Have it your way!
l arrived just before the explosion.
Headquarters had the good idea
of setting up hospital
in a hangar containing
a hydrogen-packed zeppelin.
The Cornflower
has just been evacuated.
Will he make it?
His hip wound isn't too bad. But
he has a severe case of pneumonia.
You're both registered
according to your tag numbers.
I don't want to know anything else.
But good luck anyway!
Block the pulley!
After that, l walked to Bernay.
l had no idea if my wife
had received my letter,
so each day l waited for her
at the bus-stop.
With the money from the sale,
we bought a farm here.
The most isolated one we could find.
They call it "The End of the World".
That's it.
How strange.
You shot a hole
right through your lifeline.
Of course.
I died. At Bingo Crpuscule,
like your fianc.
If ever you find
Jean Desrochelles alive somewhere,
let me know.
You know where to find me.
Make yourself at home!
At Christmas,
come down the chimney!
For Miss Mathilde.
l'll give it to her later.
lf l were you...
I would wake her up.
What is it?
"He's alive.
"Stay where you are, Mathilde.
"Just stay where you are.
"I'm on my way.
"Germain Pire."
How silly l am!
Peerless on the prowl,
faster than a whippet!
He's well and truly alive,
but he's lost his memory!
Total amnesia. He even had to learn
to read and write again.
The psychiatrists treating him
since '17 aren't hopeful.
But who knows?
There are as many amnesias
as amnesiacs.
Where is he?
ln Milly-la-Fort.
Orphaned for the second time.
He's just lost his adopted mother.
Pierre-Marie, do you know Mr. Pire?
By reputation.
An honour.
I'll believe it when l see it.
"With my own eyes!"
When Jean Desrochelles was born,
his mother was 40,
and had no other children.
When the gendarmes took him...
To replenish the troops in Ardennes.
She became depressed.
One day,
a comrade of her son visited her...
Unfortunately, it was Jean.
A shell had got him. He'd already
been dead for a few hours.
l should also tell you...
Maybe the youngest prisoner
has taken Jean's identity...
exchanging tag numbers.
She went off her rocker
the day the hospital rang her,
asking to come to her son's bedside.
He's sleeping. l'll leave you.
Who are you?
Your mother, my darling.
l'm your mother.
l ran my own little investigation.
Mrs. Desrochelles died
two months ago.
Run over by a truck
after a fight with a shopkeeper.
And l'm not guessing!
- It's in the report.
- We already knew that.
Don't get upset.
Mrs. Desrochelles didn't suffer,
she died straight away.
It's not that.
I feel so guilty!
l didn't believe you,
my dear Mathilde!
l should have known!
l'm so sorry.
ln what she would refer to as
her "Milly Expedition",
the sun, the sky
and nature are with her.
As a true lady, she made
every effort to look her best.
Dressed in white for freshness,
lipstick for the occasion,
eyebrows shaped.
But none of that black
which lengthens the eyelashes.
She knows that tears
can make a mess of it.
He knows about your visit.
We said a young girl
he'd dearly loved was coming here.
He asked your name
and found it very beautiful.
He's in the garden.
He's waiting for you.
Does it hurt when you walk?
Want to see what I'm doing?
l'll show you later,
when it's finished.
But why are you crying?
Mathilde leans back
against her chair,
folds her hands in her lap
and looks at him.
ln the sweetness of the air,
in the light of the garden,
Mathilde looks at him.
She looks at him...