Directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer • Drama • With Jacques Perrin, Bruno Cremer, Pierre Fabre • 1965 • 95 minutes
1954. The dying days of the French war in Indochina. As the battle of Diên Biên Phu rages, the 317th platoon of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps are ordered to destroy their base and evacuate. The French and Laotian soldiers must brave the Cambodian jungle on foot to reach the safety of French-held Tao Tsai, hoping to get there before the town falls.
The men are optimistic as they set out. But what should be a 48-hour trek goes wrong almost from the start. After running into a Viet Minh supply base, the 317th platoon take casualties. Their rookie leader, the idealistic sub-lieutenant Torrens (Jacques Perrin) has spent all of 18 days in Indochina and insists on carrying the wounded. He clashes with his adjutant, Willsdorf (Βruno Cremer), a jaded Wehrmacht veteran of the Russian campaign. A harrowing week-long journey follows, through the mountains and across rivers, as the men vainly hope to be saved by air support.
Directed by Oscar®-winner Pierre Schoendoerffer, and based on his novel of the same name, THE 317th PLATOON captures the terror and chaos of the last days of the French war in Indochina. This is a classic war film that influenced later American cinema on Vietnam.
“This is a staggeringly engrossing and effective movie, its settings both beautiful and oppressive, its incidents tense and eye-opening... this is a genuinely revelatory war movie.” —The New York Times
“A new restoration of Pierre Schoendoerffer’s 1965 masterpiece The 317th Platoon arrives as a reminder that nothing in the bungled tragedy of Americans in Vietnam should have been a surprise. Surveying the doomed 1954 retreat of French and Laotian soldiers, Schoendoerffer exposes, with a reporter’s eye, the horrors that were and the horrors to come.” —The Village Voice