Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very ... See full summary »
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Manoel de Oliveira
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Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very soon he is taken prisoner of war. After shortly serving in Goerings hunting lodge, he becomes the dogsbody in Kaltenborn Castle, an elite training camp for German boys. Completely happy to take care of these children, he becomes a servant of Nazism, catching boys from the area as supplies for the camp. Written by
Frank Wallner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Prior to the school fire, a caption says "Paris 1925". Upon his arrest as an adult, Abel, through his narration, remembers the fire as having happened "twenty years ago". This would place his adult scenes in 1945, but when he joins the French army after his arrest it is before the German occupation of Paris which would place his arrest in 1940. However, Abel is slow-witted and possibly does not have an accurate sense of time. See more »
Count von Kaltenborn:
This whole beautiful country, to which we have given our souls, is utterly doomed. It's going to be wiped out of human memory. Our entire heritage, even our name, our ancestors' names, wiped out, all wiped out!
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Known in English as "The Ogre" this has got to be John Malkovich's finest film to date. He plays an ignorant man, Abel, living in a small town at the dawn of the Nazi movement. He seems to be mentally slow, but emotionally heightened as has a great passion for the vitality of the children in the town. He is fond of photographing, especially children. However, due to a mis-understanding, because the people of the small town are so ignorant and afraid of the quiet lumbering Abel, he is sentenced to jail (undeservedly) for the crime of molesting a child. He is transferred to help with the war effort in France, and eventually comes to work for the Nazi party, "recruiting" children for the cause. He, however, does not seem to know what the Nazis stand for, or why he shouldn't be taking in children. He cares for the children as if they were his own, and is eventually persecuted for harbouring a young Jewish boy, which is when he begins to realise the ramifications of his plight.
A brilliantly scripted film (filmed in English despite the foreign origin). A must see. It saddens me, though that it is so difficult to find, and that it was never released in the US (as far as I know).
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