Captain Conan (original title: Capitaine Conan) is a 1996 French drama film directed by Bertrand Tavernier. It is based on the 1934 Prix Goncourt-winning novel Captain Conan (Fr. Capitaine Conan) by Roger Vercel.
In the French infantry on the Macedonian Front during the First World War, Conan, an officer of the élite Chasseurs Alpins, is the charismatic leader of a special squad, many from military prisons, who raid enemy lines at night taking no prisoners. Despising career soldiers, his only friend is the young academic Norbert.
When the Armistice with Bulgaria is signed in September 1918, his unit is sent to Bucharest, capital of France’s ally Romania, as part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. Neither fighting nor demobilised, morale plummets and courts-martial begin. After a successful defence, Norbert is coerced into becoming the prosecutor by the threat that, if he does not, Conan will be charged. In a brutal raid on a crowded nightclub, some of Conan’s men seized the takings, crippling a female singer and killing the female cashier. With the help of the Romanian police and a French prostitute, Norbert finds the men but gets them light sentences.
A widow arrives from France looking for her son, who she finds awaiting trial for desertion. After listening to her story, Norbert thinks that the boy may be blameless and that his officer is out to get him shot. Conan, who hates the officer, agrees and takes Norbert over the old front line where the boy got lost in action. Both become convinced of his innocence.
Fighting breaks out again when the French move up to the Danube and come under attack from the Red Army. During the action, Conan empties the prison and leads his men to one final victory. In a sombre coda, years later back in France, Norbert visits Conan to find him no longer the dashing hero but the sick owner of a little shop.Philippe Torreton: Conan
Samuel Le Bihan: Norbert
Bernard Le Coq: Lieutenant de Scève
Catherine Rich (French): Madeleine Erlane
François Berléand: Commandant Bouvier
Claude Rich: General Pitard de Lauzier
Cécile Vassort: Georgette
André Falcon: Colonel Voirin
Claude Brosset: Father Dubreuil
Crina Muresan: Ilyana
Cécile Vassort: Georgette
François Levantal: Forgeol
Pierre Val: Jean Erlane
Roger Knobelspiess: Major Cuypene
Frédéric Pierrot: conductor
Jean-Claude Calon: officier greffier Loisy
Laurent Schilling: Beuillard
Jean-Yves Roan: Rouzic
Philippe Héliès: Grenais
Tonio Descanvelle: Caboulet
Eric Savin: gunsmith
Olivier Loustau: Mahut
Jean-Marie Juan: Lethore
Jean-Christophe Chavanon: sentinel of Scève
Christophe Calmel: sentinel 2 of Scève
J.P. Monaghan: English major
Laurent Bateau: Perrin, soldier
Tervelt Nikolov: Bulgarian soldier
Eric Dufay: Lieutenant Fideli
Philippe Frécon: Ménard, the cook
Diana Radu: waitress at the Café Sokol
Michel Charvaz: sergeant Café Sokol
Patrick Delage: Messinge, the waiter
Patrick Brossard: Riquiou
Yvon Crenn: ordonnance Floch
Christophe Odent: Cabanel
Franck Jazédé: Havrecourt
Dominique Compagnon: Morel
Pascal Guérin: soldier latecomer
Christophe Vandevelde: soldier class II
Maria Pitarresi: a nurse
Patrice Verdeil: soldier "quart d'eau"
Frédéric Diefenthal: sergeant gare Bucarest
Daniel Langlet: principal
Luminiţa Anghel: singer in a bar
Radu Duda: Insp. Stefanesco
The film has two out of three fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, even though there are more reviews listed.
Janet Maslin, of The New York Times, said that Mr. Torreton powerfully embodies the film's central questions of what a fighter becomes without combat and where the values inherent in savage battle may lead. Ken Fox, of TV Guide, said beautiful as it is brutal and that it is one of the best war films of recent years. Alex Albanese, of Box Office, said that the film is finely wrought—as hard, precise and heartbreaking as its title character.
Bertrand Tavernier won the César Award for Best Director and Phillippe Torreton won the César Award for Best Actor. The film was also nominated for six other César Awards including Best Film, Best Writing and Most Promising Actor. The film was nominated for Film Presented at the Telluride Film Festival.
The DVD is in French with English subtitles, widescreen, and has a 2.0-channel PCM audio mix. The only special feature on the DVD is Un Film Sur Bertrand Tavernier, a fifty-four-minute documentary about the making of the film. The release date of the DVD was December 19, 2000.