"Au Revoir, Les Enfants" Is Released
Au revoir, les enfants (French for Goodbye, Children) is a 1987 film written, produced and directed by Louis Malle.
The screenplay was published by Gallimard in the same year.
The film is based on events in the childhood of the director, Louis Malle, who at age 11 was attending a Roman Catholic boarding school near Fontainebleau. One day, he witnessed a Gestapo raid in which three Jewish students and a Jewish teacher were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz. All four were gassed on arrival. The school's headmaster, Lucien Bunel - Père Jacques de Jesus, was arrested for harboring them and sent to the concentration camp at Mauthausen. He died shortly after the camp was liberated by the American Army, having refused to leave until the last French prisoner was repatriated. Forty years later, Yad Vashem granted the title Righteous Among the Nations to Pere Jacques. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
Gaspard Manesse plays Julien, an 11-year-old Catholic boarding-school resident during the Nazi occupation of France. He is witness to the courage of his instructors, who defy the German's anti-Semitic policies and quietly enroll Jewish children into the school under assumed names. Manesse befriends Jean (Raphael Fejto), one of these "instant Catholics." The refugee children are betrayed by a hostile ex-employee of the school, forcing Julien once more to be a bystander to history as Jean and the teachers are arrested. For this return to the French film industry after several years in the US, Louis Malle purged himself of his own bitter memories of life under the thumbs of the Nazis. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide