Louis Malle, Patrick Modiano translated from the French by Sabine Destrée

Lacombe Lucien

The Screenplay

Publication Date: May 31, 2016

160 pp


List Price US $12.99
ISBN: 9781590517666

Trade Paperback

List Price US $14.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 9781590517659

Patrick Modiano and Louis Malle’s screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film tells a powerful story set in World War II France of a seventeen-year-old boy who allies himself with collaborators, only to fall in love with a Jewish girl

This early work by the Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano relates the story of Lucien Lacombe: a poor boy in Nazi-occupied France who, rebuffed in his efforts to enter the Resistance for a taste of war, becomes a member of a sordid, pathetic group of Fascist collaborators who join the Gestapo in preying upon their countrymen. Lucien encounters the Horns, a Jewish family from Paris hiding in his provincial town. Inevitably, he must choose between the coarse appeal of violence and his emerging feelings of tenderness for the family’s daughter, France. Amid the excesses brought on by the impending collapse of the Nazi occupation, Lucien and France come to live out an improbable idyll. This classic is an essential read for students and film lovers alike.

Excerpt from Lacombe Lucien

LUCIEN: No, I’m from Souleillac.

HORN: And you’re a . . . a friend of Jean-Bernard de Voisins?


HORN (groping): Are you . . . a student? Are you . . . on vacation?

LUCIEN: No. I work in the German police.

Horn takes the blow with bowed head. Then he gets up and helps Lucien slip into the jacket, to which he makes some minor adjustments. From the table he takes a big pair of tailor’s scissors and snips off a few stray ends of thread that still show, especially in the area around the collar. He circles slowly around Lucien, who stands there motionless.

HORN (as though he were speaking to himself): The fact is . . . I knew Jean-Bernard’s father, the Count de Voisins. . . . A charming man. . . . He used to worry a lot about his son.

Lucien gingerly picks up his revolver, shoves it deep into his inside coat pocket, then takes it out again.

LUCIEN: So it’s true, eh . . . you’re a Jew?

Horn does not answer. The piano, which we have heard up till now, has stopped.

LUCIEN: Monsieur Faure says that Jews are the enemies of France.

HORN: No . . . not me. . . .

Lucien now tries to fit the revolver into his other pocket.

LUCIEN: Are you from Paris?

HORN: Yes. . . . I was a good tailor. . . . I had a good clientele . . . friends. . . .

Lacombe Lucien is easily Mr. Malle’s most ambitious, most provocative film.” —New York Times


“Louis Malle’s drama Lacombe Lucien is one of the most effective films about the capitulation of France to the Nazis during World War II, and one of the most controversial . . . Louis Malle’s film was daring for its time for suggesting that not every member of the French public was a member of the Resistance; that indeed, many were willing accomplices to the Vichy government, and the sting of the film remains to this day.” —Wheeler Winston Dixon, film critic

Lacombe Lucien, a cause célèbre since its release in France . . . is a remarkable work in its sociology as well as in its art.” —New York Magazine

“Malle’s film is a long, close look at the banality of evil . . . a major work.” —The New Yorker