The Holocaust: Au Revoir
They tumble up and down stairs, stand on stilts for playground wars, eagerly study naughty postcards, read novels at night by flashlight, and are even merry as they pour into the cellars during an air raid. One of the foundations of Louis Malle's "Au revoir les enfants" (1987) is how naturally he evokes the daily life of a French boarding school in 1944. His central story shows young life hurtling forward; he knows, because he was there, that some of these lives will be exterminated.
Friedlander’s longing and concern for his parents during this period may help us understand what the character of Jean Bonnet and many other children hidden under false identity experienced. Friedlander described the process he was forced to undergo (Lucien Lazare (ed.), 2003).
Safely in the dark in the movie theatre, we must be cognizant of more than our own silence. Rather, the silences involved in bearing witness to Jean’s fate, and in the viewing -- witnessing Julien as another kind of witness onscreen -- make a clear statement about the place of the corporeal in education, and the necessity to articulate the place of the individual body – that is, each child and his or her story. Bearing witness thus becomes an experience out of which we can mourn for bodily loss by violent ends, as often the body is the message, and stands in for that which cannot be safely be declared aloud.
Lucien Lazare (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations – France, Yad Vashem, 2003, pp. 116-117 (series editor: Israel Gutman).
Louis Malle, Au revoir les enfants, Sifriya La’am, 1988, p. 79 [the Hebrew transcript of the film].