FILM preview Going underground

A real-life heroine of the French Resistance, 84-year- old LUCIE AUBRAC tells the story behind the film that carries her name.

Words: Peter ROSS

Most young women With a baby at home, another on the way and a husband in the (link might well spend their time juggling part-time work, Visiting chokey and changing nappies. When her husband was locked up by the Gestapo for being a member of the French Resistance, pregnant mother- of—one Lucie Aubrac tried to poison the traitor who had sold him out and set about springing her man from jail. That was Lyon, 1943.

Now at the age of 84, Lucie Aubrac is frail but still incrediny animated. As well she might be. Claude Berri director of Germina/ and producer of La Reine Margot —A has filmed her incredible story as Lucie Aubrac, with

'Even a family who opens the door to somebody pursued by for a the Gestapo is performing an act of heroism.’ Lucie Aubrac

Carole Bouquet in the title role and

Daniel Auteurl as her husband Raymond. The film, based on Aubrac’s

bestselling book Outwitting The Gestapo, is an engagingly quiet portrait of the struggles of occupied France. Although more an old- fashioned romance than a blood 'n' thunder war story, Aubrac believes that it concentrates too much on her own act of courage at the expense of the daily struggle against fascism.

’I was very moved, but not completely satisfied,’ she says. 'Because the film is about a woman who is totally in love wrth her husband and trying to do everything to get him out of prison, it doesn't show what I did for years in the everyday life of the Resistance.

’There were no big gestures of heroism. Mostly there was a lot of waiting -- waiting message, waiting for a train. Even a family who opens the door to somebody pursued by the Gestapo is performing an act of heroism.’

Aubrac may play down her bravery, but there can be no doubting her courage. One incident recreated in the film shows her facing up to Klaus Barbie the infamous Butcher of Lyon - and asking for a meeting with her

Fighting back: Carole Bouquet and Daniel Auteuil in Lucie Aubrac

husband. Wasn't she terrified?

’No, because Barbie didn’t look like I thought he would,’ she remembers. ’Because he was very powerful, I imagined someone very tall and in Nazi uniform. But he was wearing civilian clothes and was smaller than me. I was not frightened at all.’

The notion of this young French schoolteacher towering over the notorious Nazi is irresrstable and typical of Aubrac’s cheek, pluck and wit. She

puts her triumph over the fascrsts down to one thing: she was smarter than them.

’lntelligence was the key to fighting the Gestapo,’ she says. ’They did not speak French and were out of their own country, so I could trick them just by speaking. That happened several times.’

Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse from Fri 6 Feb. See review.

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28 THE “ST 6—19 Feb 1998