Directed By: Rene Clement
Written By: Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost & Francois Boyer
Based On The Novel By: Francois Boyer
Cinematography: Robert Juillard
Editor: Roger Dwyre
Cast: Georges Poujouly, Brigitte Fossey, Jaques Marin
A girl of perhaps five or six is orphaned in an air raid while fleeing a French city with her parents early in World War II. She is befriended by a pre-adolescent peasant boy after she wandered away from the other refugees, and is taken in for a few weeks by his family. The children become fast friends, and the film follows their attempt to assimilate the deaths they both face, and the religious rituals surrounding those deaths, through the construction of a cemetery for all sorts of animals. Child-like and adult activity are frequently at cross-purposes.
The film is a masterpiece from beginning to end. This is a film that is easy to tell what it is about, but it is a film that has to be seen and experienced to really know how strong and powerful it is.
This film while not being a tragedy does contain a heartbreaking ending.
This is a film where life is bleak around each corner. Poverty and death is awaiting you, but the film slows for some bright spots. A kind of innocence amongst all of it or at least some hope.
It’s a story taken more from a child’s point of view, but doesn’t portray itself as a children’s movie. It’s too dark to be. The children are the main focus but there are adults always around. The adults mean well but commonly come off as cruel. Where as the love story of the children is all about questions and discovery. When it comes to death, the world and discovery. Not a romance but they develop a intimacy and dependency on one another.
The opening of the movie is quite jarring. Nothing in the rest of the film quite equals that shock.
At times the adults get more immature and petty and the children are the more honorable and mature ones.
It’s a film that is hard to review as one feels when a film is a classic it can inspire many conversations usually bringing up favorite scenes or wondering how they did that usually ending the opinions full of praise just like most classics this film is not only a work of art but watching it is more of an experience more than anything else.
You are so into the film and the experience. You feel like a voyeur right there almost like you are in the film yourself.
The children aren’t played as saints. They are east to forgive. You enjoy time spent with them. You only wish they had better circumstances. As all the horror happens around them they still manage to play and stay upbeat and have fun. This is a hard yet rewarding film to sit through that never sugarcoats or lies to it’s audience.