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T500FC, 418th: Au Revoir Les Enfants (Louis Malle, 1987)

March.25.2011

Au Revoir Les Enfants is a magnificent film written and directed by Louis Malle. The film takes place during the childhood of Malle, carefully informing the audiences of the re-telling of his experiences while having a bout with the German occupation. It entails a shocking view of a child vividly showcasing the long highlight of his childhood that clearly shows that the human mind can be tricky in a sense of a shocking memory that one had experienced.

The initial scene smartly informs us of a new student in a school managed by Catholic priests in France. The student exhibits a little bit odd behavior since the priests, who runs the institution, accepted him in the school despite the kid being a non-Catholic. One of the school boys in the school starts off as hating him eventually he ends up being his friend, this same boy is the director of this film by the way. Everything is well, in what usually is inside a Catholic school, until the German forces is tipped that German-born Jews are currently under the care of the school.

Films set during the German occupation without featuring any bloodshed is always addictive, in a way. I remember myself ogling on Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall when I started watching it years ago, the film is about the last hurrah of Hitler; if I remember it correctly, there were a few scenes that feature some bloodshed and I wasn’t interested in those at that time, I went for the dramatic aspects of the film. Goodbye Children doesn’t go with that and instead it focuses on the relationship of a boy whose cultural background is way different to the French students inside the school. The adjustments were interesting; from how the Jewish boy interacts with the rest of the class, which also exhibit that the boy is intelligent, to the fact that the boy is an outsider, not just with the concept per se but in reality as well.

I remember myself getting hooked not just to the climax but to the different takes on the Jewish boy’s newfound life, supposedly. I remember back in high school where we had to adjust to the new students who were left homeless due to a natural disaster that happened decades ago. Up until the end, both sides felt of the animosity despite the supposed accepted changes from both parties though this film was greatly different since it will involve a human life.

This film is a greatly disheartening experience that would surely enter with one of those great films ever made, in my vocabulary. I would never forget the scene where the German soldiers found out the truth and when they were taking every “anti-Nazi” humans back to their camp, much more to the awakening of who the Nazi people are, while the French children are saying goodbye to the priest and a few of their friends. Everything was re-created from the memory of the director during his childhood, fascinating indeed.

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