The War Is Over (1966) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Diego is one of the chiefs of the spanish Communist Party. He is travelling back to Paris (where he lives) from a mission in Madrid. He is arrested at the border for an identity check but manages to go free thanks to Nadine, the daughter of the man whose passport is used by him. When he arrives in Paris, he starts searching one of his comrades, Juan, to prevent him from going to Madrid where he could be arrested by Franco's police...



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • La Guerre est Finie represents one of the few "linear" films of French director Alain Resnais although Resnais still uses flashbacks and flashforwards that suggest what is going on in the mind of the chief protagonist. Resnais, however, mainly sticks to a logical progression of events in relating this tale of an underground political operative. It is 1965. Yves Montand plays a tired, aging communist revolutionary whose target is Spain's Franco regime. He goes by at least three different names, Diego, Carlos, and Domingo, suggesting the stealthiness required of a life under ground. The movie opens with Diego and a colleague driving north across the border from Spain to France, and being stopped at a checkpoint, suggesting that he may be becoming a familiar face to the authorities, although he and his colleague are let through. Michel Piccoli plays the border official--Piccoli's career will take off in a few years.

    The official checks Diego's passport, and calls the phone number listed on it. Fortunately for Diego, Nadine, the daughter of the owner of the passport, answers the phone, and vouches for "her father." Diego's photo had been surreptitiously substituted for the father's photo. Diego eventually returns to the suburbs of Paris, his home base, and travels to the apartment of Nadine and her father to arrange to have the passport returned, altered back by an expert forger, with the original photo set in place. The father is away traveling, and does not appear in the film. Nadine, a university student, is played by a young and beautiful Geneviève Bujold. After she observes that Diego (here using the name Domingo) is old enough to be her father, they make love.

    Later that same evening he returns to the apartment of his paramour, Marianne, played by the beautiful Swedish actress Ingrid Thulin, who is often seen in the films of Ingmar Bergman. Marianne is also the name of the character Thulin played in Bergman's Wild Strawberries, made eight years earlier (the viewer almost has the feeling that she, with her child, who was unwanted by his natural father in that earlier movie, is the same character seen in Wild Strawberries, having divorced her frosty Swedish husband Evald, and moved with her son to Paris). The Marianne in La Guerre Est Finie is a book editor and single mother. She is deeply in love with Diego, and wants to have a child by him. Later that evening Marianne and Diego they make love.

    Thus Diego/Carlos/Domingo makes love to Nadine and Marianne in the same evening. Quite an accomplishment. But Diego is played by Yves Montand, who in real life betrayed his friend the playwright Arthur Miller by having an affair with Marilyn Monroe during the filming of Let's Make Love. I thought Alain Resnais was thinking about Montand's personal life when he had the Diego character betray Marianne, who makes it clear in the film that she had an opportunity to sleep with another man but let the opportunity pass.

    Diego is concerned that the Spanish police are on to the operation of the underground. Several members of the underground have been arrested in Madrid. A goal of organizing a strike to take place just before May Day is in jeopardy of failing. Diego warns his colleagues in exile with him in France that the goal is misplaced and that they are overmatched. But the leader argues against him with relentless Marxian mumbo jumbo having little connection to the reality in Madrid. His colleagues believe that Diego is burnt out and needs a rest. The viewer can't help but notice Diego's incessant smoking throughout the film, which adds to the perception of his weariness with his hazardous life lived in the shadows.

    Toward the end of the film, there is a wonderful scene in a cafe in which Diego is standing at the bar, drinking an expresso. A disheveled man standing at the coffee bar next to Diego asks for a cigarette. Diego removes an entire pack from his pocket, and offers the pack to the man. The man tells Diego that the cafe is inhabited by (undercover) police. Diego asks the man how he knows. The man replies that he works for them. Diego snatches the pack of cigarettes back from the man and reinserts it in his pocket.

    His colleagues soon reverse themselves, and order Diego to go on a mission to Barcelona. It is perhaps possible that they are sending him off because they want to get rid an agent who has become too war weary to depend on. Diego's cautious and careful observation of the streets around Paris leads him to discover that Nadine is being shadowed by the French police. He soon learns why. She is part of a radical revolutionary group--a group that is independent, and contemptuous, of his--that plans to detonate plastic explosives in Spain; the purpose of the plan is to damage the growing tourist industry that helps support the Franco regime. He visits the radicals in person, trying to warn them off their course of action. The young radicals, however, are too foolish to heed Diego's warning. Diego and a colleague, a new initiate into the underground, drive off to Spain on their assignment from the leaders in Paris. Marianne gets a warning from Nadine that Diego may be heading into a trap. The film ends as Marianne leaves for Spain in order to divert Diego back to Paris before the Spanish police can arrest him. We don't know if she succeeds.

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