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>
Father Dolle drinks the same glass of wine twice, or does not pour the second glass. The level of wine in the bottle does not appear to change. See more »
There are two alternate opening credits:The main credit starts with a story book and a female hand opens the book to reveal the credits. The alternate still has the same book but this time we are introduced to the two main characters who are sitting by a lake. In this version, Michel's hand is turning the page and in between the scenes he tells Paulette that he's going to tell a story. See more »
Wonderfully wry, ribald, and ironic look at children, life, and death in the provinces. This must be one of the best examples of poetic realism much better than any Renoir you'll see it's alive and humane, comprising a hundred little iconic cinema moments and several major ones.
A little girl, whose parents are killed in an air-raid at the beginning, wanders into a nearby farm clutching her dead dog and is taken in. She becomes attached to the boy at the farm and they start to expand her dog's grave into a little cemetery of dead animals. There's nothing macabre or sinister about this, nor (as the blurbs maintain) is it particularly a statement about the effect of war on children - it's simply the sort of thing kids might do. When they start pinching crosses from the real cemetery though, they are in for it.
The peasant family are a hoot. The father has a hilarious running feud with his neighbour; the daughter is having an illicit affair with the neighbour's son; the elder son succumbs to a tragi-comic demise after an innocuous accident; the second is a good-natured hick; and the youngest boy gets clouted by his father at every turn ("Take that!", says the father as he smacks him across the head "...and that!" says his sister as she plonks some flowers into his hand). Their every movement is bursting with rough humour and vitality and we are being shown something interesting in every frame. It comes vividly to life, and as an evocation of childhood is up there with Selznick's Tom Sawyer and "Spirit of the Beehive".
Remarkable performances from the two children. There's no sanctimoniousness or even self-awareness to it; Clement got it down and it came out right.
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