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Au Revoir les Enfants (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Version française)

Gaspard Manesse , Raphaël Fejitö , Louis Malle    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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This intensely personal film from LOUIS MALLE (The Lovers, My Dinner with André) tells a heartbreaking story of friendship and devastating loss concerning two boys living in Nazi-occupied France. At a provincial Catholic boarding school, the precocious youths enjoy true camaraderie—until a secret is revealed. Based on events from writer-director Malle’s own childhood, Au revoir les enfants (Goodbye, Children) is a subtle, precisely observed tale of courage, cowardice, and tragic awakening.

BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • Restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Renato Berta, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Video interviews with biographer Pierre Billard and actress Candice Bergen, director Louis Malle’s widow • Joseph: A Character Study, a profile of the provocative character from Au revoir les enfants • The Immigrant, Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 short comedy, featured in the film • Audio excerpts from a 1988 AFI interview with Malle • Original theatrical trailer and teaser • PLUS: A book featuring essays by film critic Philip Kemp and historian Francis J. Murphy



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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Goodbye, children." March 8 2010
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One slip can change everything May 6 2011
By Steven Aldersley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
Au revoir les Enfants
Directed by Louis Malle
Starring Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejtö and Francine Racette

Criterion | 1987 | 104 min | Rated PG | Released Mar 15, 2011

Video:
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Audio:
French: LPCM Mono

Subtitles:
English

Disc:
Single 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Au revoir les Enfants is a semi-autobiographical story from director Louis Malle who was born in 1932 and lived through many of the events depicted on the screen. Because it's based on the truth, it has added meaning for the viewer. It's about school, friendship, racism and regret.

The story begins with a 15-year-old boy, Julien Quentin (Manesse), leaving his mother and taking the train to a Catholic boarding school. The school is run by monks and all of the students are boys. It's set in the 1940s during the German occupation of France. A new boy, Jean Bonnet (Fejtö), takes the bed next to Quentin.

Most of the students tease Bonnet and make his life a misery. As you have probably experienced, this is typical treatment for a new student in any school. In addition to the teasing, he finds that the water is cold, baths have to be taken in the local town, and air raids disrupt the lessons. Bonnet's life becomes more tolerable when a monk tells Quentin to befriend him without explaining why. After a while, Bonnet's ability in a wide range of school subjects such as music, math and French, earns Quentin's respect. The two become friends.

The portrayal of school life is realistic and reminds me somewhat of The 400 Blows. It gradually becomes clear that Bonnet has a secret. He claims to be a protestant and mentions that his father is a prisoner.
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
J'ai bien aimé ce film basé sur une histoire véridique. Cela démontre combien de prêtres ont risqués pour protéger le peuple juif des déportations dans les camps de la mort.
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By Bea
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as I needed a very good story in French during the war to discuss with my grade 9 students following the reading of the book "Un sac de billes" by Joseph Joffo. The story takes place during the second world war and takes place in a private school. It touched the students as it is the story of students of the same age. It is 90% from a true story. The students loved it. The subtitles are available in French and in English.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  64 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Film About Friendship In A Terrible Time April 21 2006
By thornhillatthemovies.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Louis Malle, one of the best directors to ever create film, gained his reputation through a series of semi-autobiographical films, films so heart-felt, so deeply emotional, so full of detail, they can't be anything but outstanding. "Au Revoir Les Enfants", recently released on DVD by the Criterion Collection, is my favorite of these films.

Julien (Gaspard Manesse) has a deep-felt affection for his mother (see Malle's "Murmur of the Heart" for more on this) but he understands he will be much safer at the French boarding school in the countryside. The school, run by priests, provides a safe haven for the children of well-off families during World War II. Returning from Christmas break, the new year is uneventful for a while. Julien is a bright student and the ring leader for a bunch of boys. Julien trades items with Joseph, a poor boy who works in the kitchen, more out of amusement than anything else, but also to supplement the meager diet served by the priests. One day, a new student arrives; Jean Bonnet (Raphael Fejto), a quiet boy the other kids make fun of: "Look at Easter Bonnet." Julien also begins to notice things about the new kid; he doesn't participate in the Catholic prayers the father's lead, he doesn't eat certain things, and one night, Julien wakes up to find Jean praying over some candles. Then, Julien's attitude changes and he forms an uneasy friendship with Jean.

Made in 1987, more than forty years after the events depicted, Julien is a thinly disguised autobiographical version of the director, as he lives a real life event from Malle's childhood. You might expect such a film to be filled with saccharin and sugar, full of fond reminiscences from his childhood. But the film is very astute at depicting the childhood as an observer might see it. We watch Julien observe things, react to things, but he is very adult for his age, giving us an adult view of the events. Because we are watching his reactions, we see his feelings, which are emotional but reserved. It is similar to a television show with a laugh track, the fake laughter cueing us to laugh. When the television show doesn't have a laugh track, they have to work harder to make us laugh. When we are watching the events unfold through Julien's eyes, Malle has to work harder to make adults feel for the characters. Because this works, every emotion is more resonant and the film is much more powerful.

Life in the school is depicted in such a vivid fashion, it instantly becomes clear someone really lived through this period, this tale is autobiographical. The boys live in an old monastery, with very little heat. Yet, they don't seem to notice the problem much. They have endured it for so long and have become used to it, playing outside in the frigid weather, wearing shorts and coats. The classes are also very different from what we are used to today; the teachers are strict and the children tend to learn despite the circumstances of their life. Even though these children are from rich families, living in this boarding school, and they are well-cared for, they still have worries. The war is ever present. Some of the students have lost brothers, father, uncles and more. They are better off than many of their countrymen, but that doesn't mean they are comfortable.

As the relationship between Julien and Jean grows and changes, their friendship becomes deeper. Julien is like most boys his age, anytime someone new enters the picture, they have to prove they can fit in. Jean doesn't really fit in, or for that matter, really try to. Yet, every time Julien is surrounded by a group of friends, Jean seems to long for the same camaraderie. He is better in most subjects than Jean and he seems to get the preferential treatment Julien once received. But as Julien realizes Jean is different, and begins to piece together why, he realizes Jean will never completely fit in and has to help him through this ordeal. They become friends. Thankfully, Malle also shows a lot of restraint in this area. The friendship is a gradual thing. It doesn't happen immediately, or completely, taking time to develop.

Because the film is set in the winter of 1944, the threat of German soldiers is constant. These soldiers have occupied the small town, changing everything about the people's lives. Yet, Malle doesn't paint them as the completely evil men we have come to associate with Hitler's persona. Yes, there is always a threat, but some of their human qualities are displayed. When Julien and Jean get lost in the forest, German soldiers find them and return them to the school. One of the teachers makes a remark about the "filthy" German soldiers. The soldier responds he would like the blanket the "filthy" Germans used to keep the children warm during the ride back. During a parent visit, Julien's mother visits and takes them to a restaurant. At the restaurant a French Collaborator gives a Jewish customer a hard time. A table of German soldiers notices this and chastises the French Collaborator, humiliating him, leaving the Jewish customer to reflect in silence. The German Soldiers acted out of irritation at having their dinner interrupted, but it is interesting to watch them take the frustration out on the right person. It would have been extremely easy to paint the German soldiers as the villains we know they were. This story is told through Julien's eyes. And at the time, he wouldn't have known the full extent of the atrocities inflicted by the German army. Therefore, Malle makes some of these men seem human, giving the entire film another layer of depth. Also, during the final moments, when the Gestapo arrives at the school to investigate claims of Jewish students, their leader seems to be fairly kind and nurturing, even towards the Jewish students he uncovers. Of course, this makes him all the more monstrous. We don't expect him to take one of the children and start reading him a bedtime story. We know the fate of these children. And it is chilling. We don't really need to know what happened to them, but when Malle provides voice over narrating what happened to Jean and the other Jewish students hiding in the boarding school, we learn their fate and it causes great sadness.

All of these different layers help to make the story seem more realistic. The boarding school is run by Pere Jean (Philippe Morier-Genoud), a strict missionary who puts up with little foolishness. But after Jean's arrival, Julien witnesses a different side of the headmaster. The fact that this Catholic priest would help Jewish children hide in his boarding school, putting him and the school at risk, is a truly courageous thing. This is yet another layer, another detail, giving the film great depth. Because no one is completely innocent, or completely bad, everyone is involved in the tale of wartime survival.

"Au Revoir, Les Enfants" is a heartfelt, masterful film everyone should witness for themselves. Description doesn't do it justice.

Malle also worked in American film, creating some interesting stories, the best of which is "Atlantic City" starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon in an early role.

If you haven't experienced the work of Louis Malle, now is the time. "Elevator to the Gallows", an early Malle film, was also just released by Criterion. Check it out.
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of genius Dec 30 2001
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
This is a masterpiece of cinema, a work of genius by the late great Louis Malle. Would that we had another like him! As in Le souffle au coeur (1971) Malle (apparently) reprises part of his childhood for us, recalling everything with the barest touch, just the slightest emphasis, without rancor or any loading of the deck. He understates and plays fair always. He has complete control of his story as he gently guides the audience. He knows what they believe and what they expect. He respects that, but he doesn't cater, and he is very gentle about leading us to the conclusion. He makes it beautiful although it is horrible.

Gaspard Manesse as Julien and Raphael Fejto as Jean are unforgettable and a reminder that in film it's important to have a good cast. Yet, I suspect Malle could have made geniuses of any number of talented boys in their roles. This is your Catholic boys school coming of age film without lecherous priests or the brutality of children; that is, no more than is necessary, just what is real and seen in perspective, the context being the Nazi occupation of France in 1944. It is amazing how Malle manages to show the bestiality and brain dead stupidity of the Nazis by presenting them at their most gentle. If one can damn by faint praise, one can destroy by contrast. Compared to what is human and natural we see the Nazis, as their pretentious Reich is falling apart, chasing after children, obsessed with psychotic racist delusions. Through the objective eyes of the children we see the evil. Malle need only let the events speak for themselves.

I think artists working in any medium would benefit from a study of this film. (An excellent American film by Malle also worth study is the fascinating Atlantic City (1980) starring Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon.) What Malle's technique teaches us is to be honest, to be fair, and to keep it simple, but not too simple. Use not a brush stroke more than necessary, and pay attention to every detail, especially the small ones. But while we can learn from and appreciate, it takes genius to pull it off. It can't be done by connecting the dots.

I am struck by a little irony on the jacket of the video. It has an early Siskel and Ebert quote: "One of the year's best films." That's a little embarrassing unless the year is a hundred years long.

Incidentally, the sublime and beautiful Irène Jacob, who later became a protege of Krzysztof Kieslowski in La Double vie de Véronique (1991) and Trois Couleurs: Rouge (1994), made her debut here in a small part as a piano teacher.

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!"
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Loss of Innocence is Truly Tragic Nov. 16 2009
By Randy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Au Revoir les Enfants (Goodbye, Children) is a French film of profound sadness. The story is about Julien Quentin, a young French boy who must attend school in the countryside because Paris is not safe due to WWII. The opening scene with Julien saying goodbye to his mother says a lot about Julien's character. He can be mean yet at the same time, he shows incredible love and friendship to those dearest to him. While at the school, he meets Jean Bonnet, a mysterious boy who Julien cannot help but be curious about.

The title of the film says much about the themes present. As the film progresses, 12-year-old Julien learns about the tragic things in life. Unlike most other boys his age, the events surrounding the film cause him to grow up earlier than he is comfortable with. Childhood is an incredibly fleeting thing and to many of the characters in the film, it is even more so.

The strongest part of the film was the acting by Gaspard Manesse (Julien) and Raphael Fejtö (Bonnet). Julien initially takes a dislike to Bonnet, but they begin spending more time with one another, learning that despite differences in each other, they are able to get along and form a friendship that touches both of their hearts. A tragic yet innocent mistake late in the film leads to a heart wrenching and unforgettable ending.

Au Revoir les Enfants is one of the best films I've seen. It is intelligent and deep in its message. For me, the message is that war affects children unnecessarily and cruelly. Like the title implies, children are forced to grow up too quickly because of war. I do not know about other viewers but for me, childhood was a happy yet brief time. For children affected by war and violence, it is even shorter, and this film perfectly embodies the tragic consequences that follow. I cannot recommend a film more intensely than this. See and judge it for yourself.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful and moving drama....... Sept. 13 2007
By D. Pawl - Published on Amazon.com
I couldn't review SCHINDLER'S LIST, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and THE GREAT DICTATOR (films related to some of the darkest saddest times in humanity, during Nazi rule) and pass up AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS (GOODBYE, CHILDREN). This is, in my opinion, one of the finest films made by the late, great Louis Malle. It is a semi-autobiographical account of a young boy living a sheltered life in a Catholic school and the chance encounter he has with his classmate, who is first a rival and then becomes a beloved friend. This friend is concealing a secret during a time when the Nazis were cracking down on and removing Jews from schools, among other places. I don't need to say too much for you to know the gist of the plot, the pressures that the young protagonists face and the brutal reality of life that hits them smack between the eyes. This film sensitively and honestly depicts their plight, during a very dark point in history. AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS is truly poetry for the eyes, and you will never be the same after viewing it.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unlikely friendship April 29 2005
By Gerald Buszta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Louis Malle has packaged a sensitive but ultimately brief and tragic friendship between a young parisienne at a Catholic boarding school and a jewish boy who is being hidden there by priests during the Nazi occupation. Malle, sensitively and realistically uncovers their triumphs, their foibles and shortcomings in a manner that will both move you and entertain you. The inevitible outcome weaves its way through the entire fabric of this production. Use the subtitles, have a hanky handy and be prepared for something very special.
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