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 ...
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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 »
Young boys are so bold and courageous. No living creatures are as noble or as beautiful-- and yet so heartbreakingly awkward. I love nothing like I love the young boys. What a privilege, to gather them all in a castle they can call their own! Mostly they trust me, but sometimes they don't. And then I can feel the part of me that is made of stone. Hard and pitiless, I force them to come with me.
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Tournier is among the great French writers of the latter 20th century, maybe the only one living competitive enough for the Nobel prize. The movie is, however, rather unsatisfactory, even if Malcovich does a good job. The reason for the lameness of the production is that the director never dared to explore more fully the darker side of Tiffauges, to make it clear why people were afraid of him, why he could not build friendships and so on. Apparently the producers were afraid that if they made the main character more graphic, this would really turn him into a pedophile and alienate the viewer. Here is the big hitch in putting great books on screen. In cinema characters most often end up gaining the sympathy of viewers. So in view of making the character likable and keeping hope alive that one day he would be able to survive his obsessive manias, the screenwriter and the director deliberately twisted the end. In the movie, Abel turned into a real Christopher carrying the child-Jesus (a Jewish refugee from a concentration camp) as a sign of his Christian redemption, but... in the book Tiffauges does not survive the crossing of the Mazurian swamps: on the contrary, he deliberately drowns, together with the young boy, in a tragic culmination of his unending obsession with young children. This is why the original title of the book is "Le roi des aulnes", the elven-king from Goethe's dark poem. Even if I greatly admired the book, I long suspected Tournier to have been carried too far away in his creative search, up to the point of inventing a kind of mania which does not belong to the list of pathological states. Such non-sexual pedophiles, obsessed with children, but harmless and protective, do they exist? Are there really people who want to protect children from growing up?
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