“These lines [at the end of the film] were the first thing I wrote before I even started the screenplay … the line at the end and the fact that I would inject my own voice – suddenly jumping forty years – that was always my intention. Some people advised me to put it in writing instead of using my voice, but I knew it had to be my voice. I thought it was important for people watching the film to understand at the end that this story was a true story and actually came directly from my memory. And I knew it would come on the close-up of Julien.” Louis Malle on the closing lines of Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)
“Au Revoir Les Enfants” is a tragic French film that revolves around the true story of two boys who meet at their French-Catholic boarding school in 1944. Julien Quentin (Gaspard Manesse) is a wealthy French boy who is one of the most popular boys in the grade. Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto) is an outcast child from the start. With a questionable past, protestant faith, and funny name, he is an obvious target for bullying around the school. The movie revolves around Julien and Jean’s dysfunctional on-and-off friendship. When Nazi forces become more apparent and dangerous in every day school life, Jean begins to disappear at random times. No one notices, but Julien is determined to find out why. This chilling story is a sure change from regular WWII films that are known today. It truly is refreshing to find a film that is from the French perspective, rather than another movie told by a solider on the front. It will leave you questioning freedom, and if it even exists.