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Au revoir les enfants: Goodbye Children (1987)
"Au revoir les enfants" (original title)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama, War  |  December 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 22,382 users  
Reviews: 90 user | 74 critic

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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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 28 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gaspard Manesse ...
Raphael Fejtö ...
François Quentin (as Stanislas Carré De Malberg)
Philippe Morier-Genoud ...
François Négret ...
Peter Fitz ...
Pascal Rivet ...
Benoît Henriet ...
Richard Leboeuf ...
Xavier Legrand ...
Arnaud Henriet ...
Jean-Sébastien Chauvin ...
Luc Etienne ...
Moreau (as Luc Étienne)


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | War


PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

December 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Au revoir les enfants: Goodbye Children  »

Box Office


$4,542,825 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Based on an incident from Louis Malle's own youth. See more »


When in the woods and running from his 'captors,' Julien hides in the rocks. During this sequence, his hair changes between shots. See more »


Julien Quentin: T'as peur?
Jean Bonnet: Tout le temps.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Pour Cuotemoc, Justine et Chloé. (opening credits) See more »


Referenced in Reservoir Dogs (1992) See more »


Rondo Caprioso
Written by Camille Saint-Saëns (as Saint-Saens)
Performed by Ami Flammer, violin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Children hide a terrible secret in this film masterpiece
9 July 2000 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

On seeing this movie several years ago my accompanying colleagues said of the film: what a load of self-indulgent, confusing, French stylized rubbish. They bemoaned the slow pace of the film, of the 2 dimensional directing and lack of any action or violent death scenes!

Those words still linger with me now and has made me realise that perhaps a lot of the movie-going public these days feed on the latest sfx pyrotechnics, more ingenious ways of abstract killings, lots of needless sex and not letting a good intelligent story get in the way.

Films like Les Enfants are going to be even more difficult to track down if Hollywood and some of the European studios opt for the fast Buck route to riches.

Les Enfant is a truly wonderful & yet harrowing account of life in a Catholic boys boarding school during the dying embers of the Nazi occupation of France in WW2. One of the new boys happens to be Jewish but the headmaster chooses to keep such identities covert while still offering him sanctuary and an education in spite of all the risks he takes.

To be fair I know little of Louis Malle previous to this film, but I think he must have poured his life's soul into writing & directing Les Enfant.

No detail, harrowing or otherwise, is spared; we see so much beauty amongst the horrors of occupation & collaboration; but also the blossoming relationship between the two lead boys and how initial envy & hatred of the Jew is somewhat diluted by the realities that this is no infantile school game but that life and death for the Jewish boy hangs by a thread if anyone at the school should reveal his true identity.

The final moments are perhaps one of the most sad & dramatic scenes I have ever seen. These days a lot of people would be waiting for some great heroic entrance from a big movie star to sort out all the misery and leave us with a reassurance that "it really wasn't all that bad back then was it".

But there are no heroes at the end of this movie, at least not the kind of heroes Hollywood serves up. The boys in this film are the true heroes right to the very end, primarily for their spirit of humanity in the face of impossible odds.

This is the hard reality of war amongst children growing up not only in the face of their own adolescence (and all the problems that serves), but also with the dark fingered claw of Nazism hanging menacingly like the the Scythe of the Grim Reaper.

This film will move you in so many directions and will hopefully bring you back down to earth from the current Hollywood shallow circus of pap & style-over-content.

Its a difficult film to track down, and the reason for this can be attributed to the first paragraph of this review.


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