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Klaus Maria Brandauer,
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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, however. Written by
Doug Shafer <email@example.com>
I am really drawn to art that makes clean choices about messy things in order to deliver the richness of the mess cleanly.
Its a complicated set of tradeoffs, part abstracting things away, part enriching or amplifying things. Cinema is different than any other art because nominally we presume we are seeing reality. The people and things we see are real and the situations seem real.
But what we actually get is refined. There are two pleasures to such projects. One is the inhaling of the world we are presented with, then living with it as it commingles with our blood. The other is a sort of external appreciation of what choices were made, how expertly the arrows were made, and what craft there was in how we were tracked and captured.
This is a wonderful film in both respects and likely will stay with you dually for the rest of your life. Clean and messy.
One of the messes is accidental, as is probably true in most real art. The story is truncated abruptly because funding was. If you didn't know that, you might be amazed at how adroitly this storyteller dropped the narrative to keep us in the story once it has ended. And you might marvel at how appropriate that is, given the girl's own loss of story.
The nominal threads are about losses and the superficialities of religion to cover them. This is wrapped in an evocation of dear childhood, innocence, deep bonds, impulsive large projects. And of course, adults who have no idea of the real world nor appreciation for the bonds to it. We can get all this because the ordinary skills (acting, writing, staging) are performed so well that they get out of the way.
(However, along the way we become aware that the filmmaker murders a finally twitching puppy before our eyes.)
I'd like to highlight the external view, the one that looks as what is refined and what leavened. Simplified in story thread and child's perspective. Enriched in emotion, engagement and unexpected shape. Its sweet and dark both. Its emotionally casual and deeply affecting both. Its both distinctly French and universal, something that is rare in my experience. Bresson can't touch this.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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