The Last Of The Last

"The last surviving soldier of the World War wants to get rid of a terrible burden that keeps him alive."

The Last Of The Last is a short film written and directed by French artist Patrice Guillain that features a soldier who is the last survivor of the First World War and has a dire unresolved conflict that prevents him from being at peace with himself.

One main character, with a cast of supporting characters, an external conflict that triggers a strong internal one (guilt), staging that jumps 100+ years in time and a war theme are the main components of this short.

Situated in three main locations, two in the present (urban) and one during the First World War (rural), the short places special emphasis on performances. The director of the film has plenty of experience as an actor and it shows, both in his own performance (he plays the journalist who takes the call) as well as in the attention dedicated to the quality performances throughout the film. Characters perceive each other and the environment, they listen and their exchanges modify each other, lines are spoken organically responding to emotional contexts, sensory images abound, etc. The director chose a naturalistic performance aesthetic.

Highlights from directing include the way Patrice Guillain has maximized elements of surprise, such as the energetic long take that leads to a moment of silence when the phone call is heard, amplified by the startled look of the four supporting characters in the office. The effective buildup towards the second suprise, when the French soldiers meet the German ones. And the camaraderie between the two French and German soldiers, which leads to the third plot point. Also worth noting is the choice of fully revealing the old Simon Rosemberg character towards the end for additional impact, and the idea of closing with the photo of Rosemberg’s own family in the Second World War.

What makes it work so well? Great use of narrative and cinematographic elements to maximize surprise, remarkable performances, agile editing and one of the strongest conflicts we’ve seen in a while in film.

Director Patrice Guillain kindly shared with us some words on the conception of the film:

So, how I’ve got the idea ? That’s the main question I got always after a screening ! And I used to answer :

I met Hitler in flesh …

You can imagine what everytime the reaction of the audience is, and also the silence…

Actually, I went on the set of this movie about he latest days of Hitler in his bunker, DER UNTERGANG with Bruno Ganz.
I was on the set visiting my friend GOTZ OTTO, who has been in the movie Hitler’s bodyguard. I was in this period of my life, armourer on movies in Germany.
So I saw Bruno Ganz dressed and completly being the caracter.

The day after I asked to my mate Gotz : Hitler, did he do the First World War ? He answered to me : yes !
And I said to him, if he died, the Second World War would have never happened !
And I thought to myself, it could be a good story for a movie ! 10 years after, I’ll do it ! Believe in your dreams, they could become true !

So now the story is around the world ! With 61 selections in 31 countries with 10 international prizes.

vimeo.com

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