In the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of France, taken to the hospital for a broken leg from an accident, twelve-year-old Maurice Gutman is narrowly spared from the mass roundup that will ...
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In the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of France, taken to the hospital for a broken leg from an accident, twelve-year-old Maurice Gutman is narrowly spared from the mass roundup that will take his family from him and leave them imprisoned in a distant death camp. At the hospital, Dr. Daviel diagnoses him with tuberculosis and imposes a long treatment, perhaps a humane ruse to prevent him from being deported. Over the course of two years, while living with the hospital staff, Maurice and eight other young boarders unforgettably experience friendship, solidarity and extraordinary courage. These are the children of luck.
Only one review ,an American one;apparently ,the French don't care .
Based on a true story , the hero intervenes in voice over at the end of the film ,at the time of making ,he was 85 then .
It's a deeply moving movie ,in the grand tradition of Malle's "au revoir les enfants " and Doillon's "un sac de billes" : the fate of Jewish children during WW2 in occupied France ;some were saved ,hidden in schools or covents by just men and women at their own risk...
Maurice spent the occupation in a hospital ,under a generous doctor's and his devoted nurse's watchful eye ;both were heroes in the shadow.
The shameful round up of Jews in the Paris Velodrome d'hiver by the French gendarmes (July 1942) is showed in admirably succint style:as he is driven back home on an ambulance ,Maurice catches a glimpse of his mom and sister forced into the bus :"it's only a police control ",he's told ,before a providential fall in the stairs makes him wind up in another hospital.
But there the doctor (Philippe Torreton),diagnoses TB and he's confined in a room with other children.
That's the strength of the movie : all the events are seen through children's eyes,some are Jews,some are not ,all stand together ,all share agonizing treatments (I read depictions of them and the movie is accurate) and small joys : one play the accordion and they sing together .A schoolteacher ,Charles (Antoine Gouy ) comes on Thursday to give them some education : at the time ,and till 1972, it was the children's day off ,we will learn that this teacher works on a voluntary basis; in a normal school , Charles would not have been allowed to talk about De Gaulle and the allies, he would have been given away to the Gestapo .
Charles ' s attempt at a murder of a German officer is witnessed by several children who try to piece together ...is Charles a coward?
But there are things the children cannot know : the teacher is probably a resistant fighter,but his fate will remain mysterious ; the dilemmas of the doctor, who struggles to be faithful to his medical code of ethics : shall we hand the Jewish children over to the nazis ? (if we don't ,all our patients will be sacrificed ) who shall we treat when there's only enough penicilin for two patients?.
The physical examination ( circumcision) begins as a terrifying scene but almost ends up as a farce ,thanks to the doctor's tricky plasters;but smiles freeze when the ambulance take away the sacrificed lambs .
One can tone it down a little for the Abel/Cain hackneyed topic: the saintly doctor and his brother ,who belongs to the Milice ;the children using (a repeated scene) the cleaning man as a punching-bag is neither funny nor charitable of them .
But these "good luck children" are endearing , and the movie is to be recommended ,if only for their spontaneity.
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