ARCH OF TRIUMPH
US, 1985, 105 minutes, Colour.
Anthony Hopkins, Lesley- Ann Down, Frank Finlay, Donald Pleasence.
Directed by Waris Hussein.
Arch of Triumph is a television remake by director Waris Hussein (veteran director of a great number of telemovies in the 70s and 80s). The original film was directed by Lewis Milestone with Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Charles Laughton in 1948. This film is designed for the television audience. Anthony Hopkins and Lesley Anne Down star (as they had in the television version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame). Donald Pleasance is his menacing self as the Nazi and Frank Finlay is the sympathetic Russian Emmigre working as a concierge in Paris. The setting is the outbreak of World War II, the focus on refugees from Germany living in France.
Hopkins is quite effective as the doctor who was tortured by the Nazis, wants revenge on his tormentor, serves as a surgeon despite his illegal presence in the country. He saves a young woman from suicide - and falls passionately in love with her. The film has the conventions of a doomed romance as well as the tension of the atmosphere of World War 11.
The film is based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front).
1. Interesting and entertaining telemovie? For the wide audience? Remake of a 1940s film? Comparisons?
2. The Paris settings, 1939? An atmosphere of darkness and the impending invasion of the Nazis? The colour photography? Period? The musical score and songs?
3. The title, the focus on Paris and its land mark, Paris and its defeat in World War II, the aftermath?
4. The portrait of Ravic: as a surgeon, his skills, illegal migrant, living in a hotel, shunning other peoples company, his friendship with Boris and his advice? going to the brothel, the madam and his work there, her support?
5. His nightmares and the memories of Haake and the interrogations, the torture? His routine, surviving, the work at the hospital? Going to the restaurants? His seeing Haake, tying to pursue him, the vengeance in his heart? The encounter with Joan on the bridge, persuading her to live, looking after her, falling in love? Her singing at the cafe? The passionate affair? The lyrical and romantic sequences, on the coast? His being rounded up after helping the woman injured at Montmartre? His trying to save his presence in France? The deporting? His return, disappointment at Joan's disappearance? Meeting her again? resuming the affair? The man protecting her and his accidental shooting her, the operation? Her death and his grief? The encounters with Haake, Haake's not recognizing him, wanting to go to a brothel, Ravit driving him into the countryside, his death? The revenge? The return to Boris? His final decision to make himself known to the authorities - and his being taken away? Portrait of a man out of his place and time?
5. Joan, her background, on the bridge, her grief, deciding to live? Ravic supporting her, loving her? Her singing, her relationship with him? His disappearing? With the protector, the reconciliation, the injuries? The operation, her paralyses, her not wanting to suffer, her death?
6. Haake, the Nazi brutality and interrogations? His presence in Paris? Wanting to go to the brothel? The drive with Ravic, his Nazi talk, his suspicions, his brutal death?
7. Boris and the Russian background, the emigres in Paris, surviving? Shrewd? Always supporting Ravic, giving him advice, a home? Dicussing his vengeance with him? The farewell?
8. The brothel, the sympathetic madam? The atmosphere of Paris in the period? The restaurants?
9. The contrast with the hospitals, the doctors? The nurse and her suspicions of Ravic? The authorities, their sympathy, their hardline on the refugees?
10. A portrait of the world situation prior to World War II, the focus on Europe and Paris?