The Silence of the Sea

Year of participation 2017
Program Tributes

The Silence of the Sea
Producer(s) Jean-Pierre Melville, Marcel Cartier
Director(s) Jean-Pierre Melville
Script Jean-Pierre Melville
Director of Photography Henri Decaë
Music by Edgar Bischoff
Sound Jacques Carrère
Edit Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri Decaë
Production company(-ies) O.G.C.


1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von Ebrennac, to live in for as long as he is in the area on Nazi business. As a figurative and literal silent protest against the Nazis, the uncle and niece do whatever is required of them while the officer is in their house, however they do not acknowledge his presence, living largely in silence whenever he is around. The officer treats the housing situation with care, like he is a guest. He speaks reverently about, among other things, culture – music and literature in particular as he is a composer and musician – his national pride, his love of France, and what he hopes will emerge from the war, namely a strong and free France, stronger than it was before the war, and the marriage between the French and German cultures which will enrich the lives of all Europeans. At the end of what ends up being his six month stay at the house, he does end up having a profound effect on the uncle and niece, despite that effect being largely unacknowledged, as his stay in France has a profound effect on him, opening up his eyes to the reality of the war.

 Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation
Festival Coverage