Au revoir les enfants (1987)

Au Revoir les Enfants is a biographical story about director Louis Malle, when we was a boy in France during World War II. This film is on the Vatican list of 45 films honoring 100 years of films in the values section. There are spoilers to follow.

The film is about a group of boys at a Catholic boarding school who have just returned from Christmas break in occupied France. Julien Quentin and his classmates are introduced to three new pupils when they return Père Jean brings them in Jean Bonnet in put into Julien’s class and at first no one likes Bonnet and they make fun of his name calling him Easter Bonnet. Bonnet excels at math and piano playing. His peers still pick on him until Julien goes to confession on day and is told by Père Jean to be nice to him. One night, Julien wakes up and sees Bonnet wearing a yarmulke and praying over two candles in Hebrew. The next day, Julien snoops in Bonnet’s locker and find a book with the name Jean Kippelstein in it. This leads to one day the boys are having a treasure hunt and Julien and Bonnet get lost in the woods and are found by German soldiers, who bring them back to the school. The event is where Julien and Bonnet begin to bond. Eventually the German come and conduct a raid on the school uncovering that Père Jean has been using the school as a safe haven for Jewish individuals.

All to often in films about World War II and the Holocaust we get them told from in the camps or in Germany/Poland so it was nice to see a story that take place before the camps and in France. If you haven’t seen this film what’s taken you so long it isn’t that big of a sobfest but it is tells the story of World War II without blood or violence focusing on the other tragedy.

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