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Le dictionnaire

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317ème SECTION

French war film on the end of the Indochina War, written and produced by Pierre Schoendoerffer in 1965 and based on his novel of the same title (1963). The film focuses on the retreat into Cambodia of four European officers and their Indochinese troops as the faceless soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s (DRV) army close in on them from the north. As the European troops are fleeing southwards, they learn of the siege and eventual fall of Dien Bien Phu to the enemy. The French platoon, like the French army in Vietnam, was now on its own. Schoendoerffer takes up two of his favorite themes in the film: the daily lives of soldiers at war (he would go on to win an Academy Award for the Anderson Company, covering American “grunts” fighting in Vietnam) and the heroic yet tragic trope of the sacrificed French soldier, a theme to which he would return in his films like Le crabe tambour and Dien Bien Phu. The 317ème Section starred Jacques Perrin, Bruno Crémer, Pierre Fabre, Manuel Zarzo, and Boramy Tioulong. The filming took place in Cambodia thanks to the support of Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Raoul Coutard, who first knew Schoendoerffer during the Indochina War, did the photography for the 317ème Section, which won the Festival of Cannes prize for best scenario in 1965.