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4.6 out of 5 stars30
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 April 2010
I first saw this film when I was at school, when it was released on VHS. The story stayed with me, and it made me focus more on the French language. I was really pleased to finally see that it had been released on DVD.
I'm now a French teacher myself, and teach at an inner-city comprehensive school. I show this to my students when we look at the history of France. It's a compelling story, with relatively accurate subtitles, and always provokes a lot of discussion in class.
A superb addition to anybody's DVD library.
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on 2 September 2009
This has to be one of the most moving French films I've ever seen. Set in a Catholic school in France during the German occupation, the story recounts the lives of two of the boys and the friendship that develops between them.

Malle successfully captures and conveys the innocence of childhood yet also the harsh reality and far-reaching effects of war.

I saw this film in a cinema in France when it was first released. You could have heard a pin drop at the end, such is the impact of this powerful film.
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on 1 June 2008
A beautifully filmed, directed and acted story of friendship, closeness, cruelty and betrayal, in a convent boarding school in WWII occupied France.
There is not much "action", but the film kept me gripped from the first minute to the last. It left me with a sense of having been there, and has been staying with me for days.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 November 2007
Set in Second World War occupied France, the story slowly introduces us to the personalities and interactions among a groups of boys living in a select, Catholic boarding school. At first the viewer may feel that nothing much is happening but watching the day-to-day life of the main characters makes them matter all the more and the climax of the film all the more memorable.
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on 18 November 2009
I had been looking to buy this film for quite a while but for some reason didn't find the time until a month or so back. To begin with I thought it was going to be quite different from the film it turned out to be and left me feeling emotional and shocked, yet there was nothing in it I didn't know or had read or seen many times before. Personally I thought the acting of the adults and the children was absolutely superb. I will leave it a month or so and watch it again. There is something in French direction that cannot be matched for films such as this.
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The year is 1943, and Julien returns to boarding school where he meets a new, rather mysterious boy named Bonnet. Julien doesn't like the new boy at first, but gradually their mutual love of books and an exciting game of capture the flag cement their friendship. Life is good at the school and, except for having no heat and meager meals, the war has little effect on the students until the day the Gestapo comes to class.

This film is based on an event in director/writer Louis Malle's childhood, one that obviously haunted him decades later. It is a war movie for people who hate war movies, focusing on the ups and downs and youthful hijinks of boys at school, until the sudden and shocking conclusion. The boys who play Julien and Bonnet are both naturals and give sincere, touching performances. The war era is faithfully reproduced and it feels like a movie made in the forties, instead of 1987. In French with subtitles. Heartily recommended.
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on 23 August 2007
At last we have a DVD version of this excellent film.

A boys painful childhood, experiencing the agony of his newly formed friendship with a Jewish boy in France during WWII.

This is a must have to your DVD collection and trust me you will not be disapointed.
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on 11 May 2012
Louis Malle is recognised as an icon of French cinema and this is arguably his best film. Set in a French village in the second world war, it is a chilling reminder of how a minority sector of French society was persuaded to go along with the Nazi policy for Jews. As always, Malle's deliberate pacing of how he tells the story and what he reveals when make for captivating viewing
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2011
This very watchable and memorable film is based on the wartime experiences of Vincent Malle, the director of the film.
Julien, the main protagonist (and presumably 'Malle') is a rather unlikeable little boy who attends a Catholic boarding school. Smarter than his schoolmates, he apparently detests school and wets his bed regularly. He is intrigued by the arrival of three new pupils especially Jean Bonnet, who claims to be a Protestant. At first hostile to him, he comes round eventually and gradually realises that his new classmate is not who he is claiming to be. As the relationship develops, Julien becomes more likeable and we see that he is just a frightened little boy who would rather be at home with his mother in Paris. The bleakness of life at that time (during WW2 in occupied France) is very well depicted: the rationing, the terror that the Nazi soldiers impose (though characters are not portrayed in a simplistic German = bad, French = good way).

Without giving too much away, this film is well worth watching. It depicts the cruelties of childhood, the difficulties of fitting in and the petty bullying very well. Although there is not a huge amount of action in the film, it is nonetheless a very powerful story where we see both extremes of human nature - the good and the bad.

The DVD has an interview with Malle, as well as a discussion about one of the characters. Both are good to see.
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on 11 May 2008
Second World War saga "Au Revoir, Les Enfants" recounts the childhood experiences of director Louis Malle during the latter stages of the German occupation of France. After the defeat of 1940, French society was forced to endure foreign occupation, domestic collaboration and a radically new way of life. Within this context we meet Julien (Gaspard Manesse), a young boy coming to terms with his own personal traumas namely, the absence of his parents and the monotonous routine of his boarding school life.
The arrival of a number of new pupils to the school disrupts the status quo and distracts Julien from his torments. One boy in particular, Jean Bonnet (Raphaël Fejtö) stands out and attracts ostracism and (secret) admiration in almost equal measure from his cohorts. Gradually, Julien and Jean are drawn closer together, but simultaneously Julien begins to have increasing suspicions about his new friend who claims to be a Protestant whilst not having, as Julien puts it, "a Protestant surname".
Ultimately it transpires that Jean and a number of other boys are in fact Jewish orphans sheltering within the confines of a strict Catholic School from the seemingly ubiquitous Gestapo. After a number of near misses (including apprehension by a German military Patrol) and with the Nazi war effort floundering on all fronts, it appears as though Jean and his compatriots may evade capture and survive the war. Tragically however, they are betrayed by a hitherto unassuming character in the film. The film ends with Jean being led away to his fate with his school friends looking on mournfully.
Overall "Au Revoir" is a beautiful and haunting tale pitting the innocence of childhood against the cruelty of war. Although some have criticised the film for its lack of substantial action, this is in a certain sense is one of its main strengths. Typically, films concerning war prefer to concentrate on the blood and "glory" of the frontline. By contrast "Au Revoir Les Enfants" portrays the war through civilian rather than combative eyes resulting in an unorthodox but no less relevant depiction.
At its core, and perhaps in keeping with the stark Catholic context, the film's underlying message is one of atonement and the possibility of redemption. Throughout the film we witness examples of both the best and worst of human nature: the bravery of the school's priests matched with the callous selfishness of a wronged individual. An important film particularly for French audiences, illuminating as it does both the courageous and cowardly attitudes of a society under occupation.
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