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Posts Tagged ‘Au Revoir Les Enfants’

I thought I would take up the A to Z challenge. I am a little behind but I will try to catch up. For the letter “A” I chose the 1987 French film, Au Revoir Les Enfants. Set in the rural countryside of Northern France during the Second World War, viewers are introduced to young school boys living and studying in a Catholic boarding school. The school year is about to begin and Julien, the main protagonist of the film, is still a young boy who is not yet ready to leave his mother’s side. As this intelligent sensitive boy settles in for another school year away from his mother, he takes solace in his secret habits of reading in bed with a flashlight while all of the other boys are asleep. One day a new student arrives and is appointed to be Julien’s roommate. Jean is a quite, self-conscious, intelligent boy. At first Julien expresses a strong animosity (that is rooted in jealousy because of Jean’s intelligence and piano talent) towards his new roommate. One night Julien awakens and discovers Jean praying in Hebrew. Although Julien does not say anything he searches Jean’s locker the next day and discovers that Jean’s real last name is not Bonnet but Kippelstein. The two boys eventually form a strong bond and become friends after a day of playing “capture the flag.” As Julien and Jean become close friends, Julien discovers that there are two more Jewish boys who are being sheltered and protected from the Nazis by the Catholic priests. This discovery is kept secret by Julien but sadly this secret will be disclosed to the dangerous powers of the Third Reich.

Based on true accounts, this film expresses imperative ideas and concepts about humanity. It provokes one to think about morals and responsibilities in conjunction with the relationships that we share with our brothers and sisters of the world. As a young boy, Julien confronted these life challenging responsibilities during a time of oppression, danger, and unrest. This thought-provoking and inspiring film is tremendously powerful. Malle’s use of close-ups (especially of Jean) are evocative and emotionally wrenching. Jean’s facial expressions reveals innocence, sensitivity, fear, and uncertainty. Jean’s face symbolizes the thousands of faces of Jewish children during the Second World War.

Another Louis Malle film that is worth checking out is: My Dinner with Andre

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