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Au Revoir Les Enfants (The Criterion Collection)
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- New, restored high-definition digital transfer supervised by director of photography Renato Berta
- Original theatrical trailer and teaser
- A new essay by film critic Philip Kemp
- New and improved English subtitle translation
Top Customer Reviews
Julien (Gaspard Manesse) has a deep-felt affection for his mother (see Malle's "Murmur of the Heart" for more on this) but he understands he will be much safer at the French boarding school in the countryside. The school, run by priests, provides a safe haven for the children of well-off families during World War II. Returning from Christmas break, the new year is uneventful for a while. Julien is a bright student and the ring leader for a bunch of boys. Julien trades items with Joseph, a poor boy who works in the kitchen, more out of amusement than anything else, but also to supplement the meager diet served by the priests. One day, a new student arrives; Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto), a quiet boy the other kids make fun of: "Look at Easter Bonnet." Julien also begins to notice things about the new kid; he doesn't participate in the Catholic prayers the father's lead, he doesn't eat certain things, and one night, Julien wakes up to find Jean praying over some candles. Then, Julien's attitude changes and he forms an uneasy friendship with Jean.
Made in 1987, more than forty years after the events depicted, Julien is a thinly disguised autobiographical version of the director, as he lives a real life event from Malle's childhood. You might expect such a film to be filled with saccharin and sugar, full of fond reminiscences from his childhood. But the film is very astute at depicting the childhood as an observer might see it.Read more ›
Gaspard Manesse as Julien and Raphael Fejto as Jean are unforgettable and a reminder that in film it's important to have a good cast. Yet, I suspect Malle could have made geniuses of any number of talented boys in their roles. This is your Catholic boys school coming of age film without lecherous priests or the brutality of children; that is, no more than is necessary, just what is real and seen in perspective, the context being the Nazi occupation of France in 1944. It is amazing how Malle manages to show the bestiality and brain dead stupidity of the Nazis by presenting them at their most gentle. If one can damn by faint praise, one can destroy by contrast. Compared to what is human and natural we see the Nazis, as their pretentious Reich is falling apart, chasing after children, obsessed with psychotic racist delusions. Through the objective eyes of the children we see the evil. Malle need only let the events speak for themselves.
I think artists working in any medium would benefit from a study of this film. (An excellent American film by Malle also worth study is the fascinating Atlantic City (1980) starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon.Read more ›
The title of the film says much about the themes present. As the film progresses, 12-year-old Julien learns about the tragic things in life. Unlike most other boys his age, the events surrounding the film cause him to grow up earlier than he is comfortable with. Childhood is an incredibly fleeting thing and to many of the characters in the film, it is even more so.
The strongest part of the film was the acting by Gaspard Manesse (Julien) and Raphael Fejtö (Bonnet). Julien initially takes a dislike to Bonnet, but they begin spending more time with one another, learning that despite differences in each other, they are able to get along and form a friendship that touches both of their hearts. A tragic yet innocent mistake late in the film leads to a heart wrenching and unforgettable ending.
Au Revoir les Enfants is one of the best films I've seen. It is intelligent and deep in its message. For me, the message is that war affects children unnecessarily and cruelly. Like the title implies, children are forced to grow up too quickly because of war. I do not know about other viewers but for me, childhood was a happy yet brief time. For children affected by war and violence, it is even shorter, and this film perfectly embodies the tragic consequences that follow. I cannot recommend a film more intensely than this. See and judge it for yourself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not sure what to make of this movie. I am no model Catholic, but in my 25 years of being familiar with the Catholic church in various countries, visiting monasteries, etc.. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Pascal
I am big into French film and this certainly delivered.Published 8 months ago by Engage. Provoke. Inspire
This French WWII film confines Nazis and freedom fighters to the background in deference to a segment of the population that is typically relegated to one-dimensional supporting... Read morePublished 12 months ago by D. A. Conrad
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