- Published on Amazon.com
The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." In the movie, Almost Peaceful by Michel Deville, many Jewish Parisians face the difficulties of restarting their lives after the Second World War. Without a choice, they must learn to live a new life and forget the old. The only thing holding them back is the memory of the life they once had and the painful memory of the war. Throughout the movie, we learn of the dark memories many of the characters faced and try with the best of their ability to look towards the future rather than the past. These characters vary from age, but their memories are as painful as on another's.
The most important scene in the movie revolves around Albert's workshop. It is where the characters talk and laugh about life and where they share their painful memories. Mister Albert is a tailor who does to the best of his ability to help those in need. As the movie begins, he hires a staff of mostly Jews, in order to help them get on their feet financially. As the movie professes, he buys a painting, in which a lonely man is wandering by himself through snow holding only his valued possession, his cello. To Mister Albert, it is a symbol of hardship and hope in which he wants to pass down to future generations so that they will never forget the pains of their ancestors. Having a part of his life taken away from him, he hopes that his children will accomplish more in their lives so that they wouldn't have the poor reputation of being tailors. As he works day by day, he slowly sees the sun after a long cold storm and falls in live with his wife again. Joseph is another character who must the face the prejudice of others. In the movie, Joseph starts out as a sewing machine operator for Mister Albert. Since he was never taken to a concentration camp, he enjoys listening to the stories of the passwords Mister Albert had used during the occupation of France. As Joseph applies for his French citizenship, an inspector that arrested his parents during the war refuses to give him one. Not knowing what to say, Joseph leaves the room, but returns shortly to defy the inspector. He retells the story of how the inspector was going to take his family to the concentration camp, but was able to escape bravely without looking back. He then tells the inspector that he is free and will one day write about his courage and the hardships of the war. The character who seems to be affected by the war the most, was Charles. In the beginning of the movie, Charles is the employee who sits quietly at his desk and avoids conversation with the others. We later find out that Charles had lost his children and wife in the concentration camps and waits for them each day at the window of his apartment. When Lea approaches him and confesses her love for him, he tells her that he has no feelings for her and wants to remain loyal to his wife. As the movie closes to and end, we see a change in Charles. He becomes more open and enjoys the company of Albert's children. In the end, he tells Lea that he is planning to move to Canada or Australia in order to start a new life and forget the old. The youngest of the characters were the two orphan boys. The first time we see one of the boys, George, is when the orphan refuses to eat strawberry jam. We later find out that his parents once told him that a jar of strawberry jam is precious and that it should be saved for a time in need. When officers rushed into his house to take his parents away, he hid in a closet. After everyone was gone, he stayed in the closet for along time and when he became hungry, he found and ate the jar of jam he found next to him. The other orphan, Daniel, we meet during the end of the movie. During a picnic, he is sitting alone by himself playing around with a pocket watch. We then find out that the pocket watch had been given to him by his father just before he was taken to a concentration camp. Since then, he rewinds the watch each day without letting it stop. It is the only item that comforts him and helps him remember his parents. In the end, through all the sorrow and pain the characters faced, they finally find joy. For Mister Albert, he found joy in his family whom he loved dearly. Joseph found the courage to write about freedom, Charles found hope to open a new chapter in his life and the orphans found the joy in their sorrowful memories in the hope of being closer to their lost parents. This movie has proven once again, that after a terrible storm, there is always sunshine.