A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives. He becomes the roommate of top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret.
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In 1944, upper class boy Julien Quentin and his brother François travel to Catholic boarding school in the countryside after vacations. Julien is a leader and good student and when the new student Jean Bonnet arrives in the school, they have friction in their relationship. However, Julien learns to respect Jean and discovers that he is Jewish and the priests are hiding him from the Nazis. They become best friends and Julien keeps the secret. When the priest Jean discovers that the servant Joseph is stealing supplies from the school to sell in the black market, he fires the youth. Sooner the Gestapo arrives at school to investigate the students and the priests that run and work in the boarding school. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Possible SPOILERS. After having led a roaming and chaotic life during more than ten years abroad, Louis Malle came back in France and made the movie he was always to make. This one was rewarded in Venise where it won the golden Lion in 1987. "au revoir les enfants" tells the story of a friendship between the son of a wealthy family, Julien and a Jew boy, Jean Bonnet hidden under a false identity. However, at first sight, nothing lets see the start of a friendship between Julien and Jean. Julien feels admiration and curiosity towards this new student but we don't really know why and Jean pretends not to see him. A few events will bring them closer, especially a treasure hunt in the woods... It's a touching, moving and finally tragic story because the intervention of the Gestapo will lead this friendship to an end between the two boys. It's not the first time that a Louis Malle's movie takes place during the second world war. In 1974, "Lacombe Lucien" told the story of a young peasant who found his place in the Gestapo. If this movie had divided the French public, "au revoir les enfants" will provoke the unanimity. Both movies are successful and strong but "Lacombe Lucien" is a rough fiction whereas the other one is partly autobiographical. With this movie, Malle eagered to recall a memory that upset him when he was at school: the arrest of a few Jew children who were hidden under a false identity. This is this memory that he filmed in the last sequence. This last one is carefully prepared and filmed in the minute details as if Malle wanted to recall exactly what he saw it and then don't think about it definitely. This is one of Malle's most beautiful movies and his last great one.
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