Gaumont Presents: Jean-Pierre Melville's Silence of the Sea

September 29–October 3, 2014


Silence of the Sea. 1949. France. Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. Courtesy Gaumont

Each fall at MoMA, Gaumont presents a title from its archives in France. This year, Gaumont’s President of the Board, Nicolas Seydoux, and CEO, Sidonie Dumas, introduce Jean-Pierre Melville’s first feature, Silence de la mer (Silence of the Sea), adapted from the famed French Resistance novella.

In wartime France, an idealistic German lieutenant makes nightly visits to the inhabitants of the house where he is billeted, offering monologues on arts and letters and the greatness of the Franco-German union to come. The Frenchman and his niece remain mute in stoic resistance; Melville uses the cinematic devices that characterize his noir films to viscerally express their silence as a matter of survival. Yet Melville also portrays the lieutenant’s disillusionment in the face of the reality of the Nazi campaign with humanity, recognizing the devastation of men from any nation amid the folly of war.

Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.



If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to