Au Revoir Les Enfants

December 1st, 1987


Au Revoir Les Enfants

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Still of Louis Malle in Au Revoir Les EnfantsAu Revoir Les EnfantsAu Revoir Les Enfants

A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives. He becomes the roommate of top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret.

Release Year: 1987

Rating: 8.1/10 (13,067 voted)

Director: Louis Malle

Stars: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejtö, Francine Racette

In 1944, upper class boy Julien Quentin and his brother François travel to Catholic boarding school in the countryside after vacations. Julien is a leader and good student and when the new student Jean Bonnet arrives in the school, they have friction in their relationship. However, Julien learns to respect Jean and discovers that he is Jewish and the priests are hiding him from the Nazis. They become best friends and Julien keeps the secret. When the priest Jean discovers that the servant Joseph is stealing supplies from the school to sell in the black market, he fires the youth. Sooner the Gestapo arrives at school to investigate the students and the priests that run and work in the boarding school.

Gaspard Manesse - Julien Quentin
Raphael Fejtö - Jean Bonnet / Jean Kippelstein
Francine Racette - Mme Quentin
Stanislas Carré de Malberg - François Quentin (as Stanislas Carré De Malberg)
Philippe Morier-Genoud - Père Jean
François Berléand - Père Michel
François Négret - Joseph
Peter Fitz - Muller
Pascal Rivet - Boulanger
Benoît Henriet - Ciron
Richard Leboeuf - Sagard
Xavier Legrand - Babinot
Arnaud Henriet - Negus
Jean-Sébastien Chauvin - Laviron
Luc Etienne - Moreau (as Luc Étienne)

Release Date: December 1987

Filming Locations: Institution Sainte-Croix, Provins, Seine-et-Marne, France

Gross: $4,542,825 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Based on an incident from Louis Malle's own youth.

Continuity: When in the woods and running from his 'captors,' Julien hides in the rocks. During this sequence, his hair changes between shots.

Joseph: Stop acting so pious. There's a war going on, kid.

User Review

Lived-in feeling gives sad film great depth

Rating: 10/10

The movie was a project close to Louis Malle's heart (he was in tears when the film premiered at a film festival in 1987) and it shows in the multi-layered treatment he gives the central setting, this fascinating boarding school with its broad cast of characters. Because there are so many different strands and affecting moments tangential to the central plot, one is not entirely prepared for the finale even if you are expecting it. French film is characteristically digressive, often to a fault, but here it works to splendid advantage. It also lends itself to repeat viewings.

I don't think you need to have lived in occupied Europe to appreciate this wonderful film; it speaks to all of us who have lived through childhood's quickly-passing parade and know its lifelong regrets. That last image of the stone wall is emblazoned in many consciousnesses, as it is in mine.

There are many interesting choices Malle makes in this film. For example, while the central subject is the Holocaust, nearly all the Germans we actually see in the film are fairly decent if nonetheless menacing types. The real villains here are almost entirely French collaborators, which was done I think to call attention to collaboration during a period when the French were dealing with the Klaus Barbie trial. [Barbie was a Gestapo officer who was aided in his work rooting out Resistance leaders by many French collaborators.] But casting French people as the heavies also suggests the central evil of prejudice and oppression is not something exclusive to one nationality, and it broadens the scope of the movie.

The tender treatment Malle affords the Catholic hierarchy in the movie is unusual, too, when you see other more anti-clerical Malle efforts like "Murmur of the Heart." There is an unexpected sense of spirituality throughout this film, somewhat muted but there all the same.

This may well stand as the cinematic masterpiece of a man who, at his best (see also "Atlantic City" and "My Dinner With Andre") was to motion pictures what his countrymen Zola and Hugo were to novels: An artist who filled his canvas with the verve and breadth of human life.


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