Au revoir les enfants

1987, 105 min., color, Blu-ray projection source


Friday, Mar. 10 at 7:30pm

“Au revoir les enfants” 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 youth enjoy true camaraderie — until a secret is revealed. Based on events from writer/director Louis Malle’s own childhood, the film is a subtle, precisely observed tale of courage, cowardice, and tragic awakening.

Calling the film “Louis Malle’s quasi-autobiographical masterpiece,” the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw writes that the film “remains breathtakingly good. There is a miraculous, unforced ease and naturalness in the acting and direction; it is classic movie storytelling in the service of important themes. As an evocation of childhood it is superb, comparable to Jean Vigo’s ‘Zéro de Conduite’ and François Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’ — perhaps better. Every line, every scene, every shot, is composed with mastery. It has to be seen.” The New York Times is equally laudatory: “It has taken Mr. Malle more than 40 years to make ‘Au revoir les enfants.’ Every film that Mr. Malle made in those intervening years has been preparation for ‘Au revoir les enfants.’ Like ‘The Dead,’ which it resembles in no other way, it’s a work that has the kind of simplicity, ease and density of detail that only a filmmaker in total command of his craft can bring off, and then only rarely.”


Louis Malle
With an introduction and post-film discussion by Jean-Louis Pautrot, professor of French and international studies at Saint Louis University.