Wednesday, May 5, 2010

L'affaire Dominici (1973)

August 1952, English war veteran Sir Jack Drummond with his wife and little daughter camped on the road in the Grand'Terre, land belonged to 75 year-old farmer Gaston Dominici (played wonderfully by Jean Gabin). That night, 6 gunshots were heard, and in the morning the Drummond family was all found murdered. The police investigated without good result, until the day when they received an anonymous letter denounced one of the villagers possessing illegal weapons. The inspector agreed to let him go if he could give valuable information. This villager said that when Gustave Dominici, Gaston's youngest son arrived at the scene of the crime, the little girl was still alive. Gustave was arrested on the pretext of negligence. He was released after 2 months in jail, but re-arrested, this time followed by his brother Clovis. Both pointed their finger at their father, who soon admitted the accusation after spending the night in the police HQ. During the hearing, Gaston took back his confession and said that his eldest son had plotted to get rid of him. "Are you sacrificing yourself?" the judge asked Gaston. "I am so unhappy," Gaston said. "My son accused me of murder." The hearing turned into a family fight between father and sons.

Based on a true story, this is a gripping movie. Who murdered the Drummonds and why? The questions are unanswerable. In the court, it turned out that there was no proof against Gaston Dominici and the police only had his confession -which was retracted- and the words of his sons. The only proof they had was a broken gun found in the river. In the reconstruction, Gaston said anything that would please the police and the judge. The police perhaps should have followed up the hints given by Gaston, during the hearing, who mentioned that Gustave might have seen something and that around the time of murder he was hidden behind the alfalfa. Also possible that this is the case where each man suspects another, although none of them is really the culprit.

With the lack of proof, Gaston was sure he would be free. The majority of the jury decided that he was guilty, though. "I do not get it," said Gaston. Neither do I. While waiting to be guillotined, Gaston's punishment was changed to life imprisonment, and in 1960 finally he was pardoned by President de Gaulle.

There was also young Gérard Depardieu as Gaston's nephew, a journalist who followed the case.

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