Life and nothing else

La Vie and Nothing Else is a French film by Bertrand Tavernier , released on.


1920, two years after the end of the First World War , the commander Dellaplane ( Philippe Noiret ) is in charge of recording the missing soldiers. He will meet two women on his way:

  • Irene, a demanding lady from the world ( Sabine Azema ) arriving in her limousine looking for her missing husband;
  • Alice, a young woman ( Pascale Vignal ) looking for her lover.

For reasons of ethics, he opposes his hierarchy when he orders him to search for the remains of the hairy who will be the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe . Although troubled by the cold spell of Irene who does not stop to cross his path, he continues his task and will soon understand why Alice and she, after a long journey in search of their men, will find themselves near a collapsed tunnel where a disappeared sanitary train is buried. The truth will soon appear to him, strange and hard as life, like war.

Technical sheet

  • Title: Life and nothing else
  • Director: Bertrand Tavernier
  • Scenario: Jean Cosmos and Bertrand Tavernier
  • Dialogues: Jean Cosmos
  • Production: René Cleitman for Hachette Première ; Little Bear ; AB Films
  • Music: Oswald of Andrea
  • Photography: Bruno de Keyzer
  • Editing: Armand Psenny
  • Sets: Guy-Claude François
  • Costumes: Jacqueline Moreau
  • Country of origin: France
  • Format: Colors – 2.35: 1 – Mono 35mm Dolby
  • Duration: 135 minutes (2:15)
  • Release date :  (La France)


  • Philippe Noiret : Commander Delaplane
  • Sabine Azéma : Irene Courtil
  • Pascale Vignal : Alice
  • Maurice Barrier : Mercadot
  • François Perrot : Captain Perrin
  • Jean-Pol Dubois : André
  • Daniel Russo : Lieutenant Treviso
  • Michel Duchaussoy : General Villerieux
  • Arlette Gilbert : Valentine
  • Louis Lyonnet : Valentine
  • Charlotte Maury : Cora Mabel
  • François Caron : Julien
  • Thierry Gimenez : The Adjutant of Engineering
  • Frédérique Meininger : Mrs Lebègue
  • Pierre Trabaud : Eugene Dilatoire
  • Jean-Roger Milo : Mr. Lebègue
  • Catherine Verlor : Good sister beach
  • Jean-Christophe Lebert : Amnesia
  • Bruno Thérasse : Rougeaud
  • Philippe Uchan : The man without legs
  • Marion Loran : Solange of Boissancourt
  • Charlotte Kady : Good Sister Hospital
  • Gabriel Cattand : Professor Mortar
  • Christophe Odent : Poirleau
  • Christian Magnan : Catreux
  • Jean Champion : Lagrange
  • Philippe Deplanche : Lecordier
  • Michel Cassagne : Abel Masclé
  • Frédéric Pierrot : Marcel
  • François Domange : Georges
  • Jean-Paul Comart : Fagot
  • Patrick Massieu : The guardian of the cemetery
  • Didier Harlmann : The penguin
  • Pascal Elso : The blind
  • Odile Cointepas : Mrs Hannesson
  • Louba Guertchikoff : The woman with blue eyes
  • Jean-Claude Calon : The zealous soldier
  • Jean-Yves Gautier : Corporal
  • Gilles Janeyrand : NCO
  • Nicolas Trunk : Soldier Lefèvre
  • Jérôme Frossard : Commissary soldier
  • Michèle Gleizer : The farmer
  • Daniel Langlet : Mr. Lohac
  • Adrienne Bonnet : Mrs. Lohac
  • Marcel Zanini : Leon
  • Marc Perrone : Pochin
  • Georges Staquet : The priest
  • Alain Frérot : Pelat
  • François Dyrek : Vergnes
  • Oswald d’Andrea : Pianist Cora Mabel
  • Mickey Baker : Jazz Banjo
  • Sangoma Everett : Jazz drummer
  • Bobby Few : Jazz pianist
  • Stephen Potts : Jazz Saxophonist
  • Mike Zwerin : Jennings
  • Bruno Raffaelli : Maginot
  • Eric Dufay : Soldier Thin

Around the film

Philippe Noiret owned a domain in Turcy in the town of Montreal in the Aude , where the end of the film was shot.

The scene of the selection of the coffin of the unknown soldier was painstakingly reconstructed identically, dialogues included. (Two small errors are to be deplored: a musical pitfall since the ringtone to the dead dates from 1931. And a seasonal pitfall.The scene takes place in November 1920 and the corporal responsible for designating a coffin deposits a bouquet of summer flowers.)

Irene’s role was initially proposed to Fanny Ardant , but she was pregnant at the time. Bertrand Tavernier later thought of Catherine Deneuve , before changing because she had already shot several times with Philippe Noiret. The role was finally entrusted to Sabine Azéma.

A story in three stories that work together

  • The starting point is a preface to Didier Daeninckx’s book about the number of missing people in the Great War. 350,000 missing! Tavernier asked himself the question: what is a disappeared? and is it found, a disappeared? If we make a story about people looking for missing people. It was also to know how we had found the unknown soldier who had been put under the Arc de Triomphe. Tavernier went to see Jean Cosmos who had worked on this subject for television. What should someone do who wants to find her husband, her brother … What are the procedures? Services of Military Graves: search through personal objects. Everyone is looking for something.
  • From there is born the character who tries to do his job well. He will disturb. To reveal massacres and he will preserve a memory that we want to forget. Politicians and the military because they were responsible. We do not want to listen to his truths. We want to hide reality and history behind the unknown soldier. “They had millions of men slaughtered and we are only going to think of one. “Politics resumes its place against strictly military affairs.
  • A France that is rebuilding after the war with people who are learning to live and to love. The subject did not interest anyone and some were frightened. During Hachette’s Board of Directors, one of the CEOs proposed to Tavernier to buy back all of his salary to stop the film. He tried to explain that it was not a movie about death but about life. It’s a film about learning about peace and the memory of certain events. “If the Earth has more memory than men, civilization is doomed” says Bertrand Tavernier.



  • Césars 1990
    • Best actor for Philippe Noiret
    • Best Music for Oswald d’Andrea
  • European Film Awards 1990:
    • Best actor for Philippe Noiret
    • Special Jury Prize
  • BAFTA 1990 : Best Foreign Language Film


  • Césars 1990
    • Best film
    • Best Actress for Sabine Azéma
    • Best Supporting Actor for François Perrot
    • Best director for Bertrand Tavernier
    • Best screenplay for Bertrand Tavernier and Jean Cosmos
    • Best photography for Bruno de Keyzer
    • Best costumes for Jacqueline Moreau
    • Best sound
    • Best editing

External link

  • (en) Life and nothing else [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database


  • Philippe Noiret , Cavalry memory , Robert Laffont , ( ISBN  978-2-221-10793-5 ) , p.  373

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