Quick recap: Two children cope with the horrors of war by creating a pet cemetery (but not the Stephen King kind).
Fun (?) fact: The movie was originally shot as a short but was then changed to feature length. By that time the actress who played Paulette had lost her baby teeth so for many scenes she wears false ones.
My thoughts: Picture it: A board room, somewhere in France. Let’s go with a board room in the Eiffel Tower because that’s about the only landmark I know. In walks René Clément, director of Forbidden Games and the writer for the screenplay, Jean Aurenche.
René: Alright, I like the plot of the film, but I feel like it should be more sad. Children growing up in World War II is depressing, but we can do better.
Jean: What if we kill off the girl’s parents?
René: It’s a start. I like where you are going with this, but let’s dig deeper.
Pierre, the custodian, who has apparently been standing in the corner of the room this whole time: Kill a puppy.
René and Jean stare at Pierre for a moment, stunned.
Pierre: And then have an old lady throw the dead puppy in the river as the little girl watches. The little girl will fish the dead puppy out of the water and then carry it around for awhile while crying.
René: Break out the champagne, Jean! We have a hit on our hands!
As this totally accurate scene shows, Forbidden Games is another depressing war film. It’s sweet how the boy, Michel, takes care of the little girl Paulette, but there’s just so much that is sad.And then you add in all the dead animals and I could barely watch many scenes. There’s a particularly sad exchange between the two children as Michel explains to Paulette that her parents are dead and have been buried in a mass grave. She reasons it is because they are cold and need a spot to warm up and that’s where the idea of a cemetery is born. It was heartbreaking to watch that and it doesn’t help that those two kids are just about the cutest I’ve ever seen. For now, though, let’s turn back to that board room in France as René and Jean try to write an ending to their movie.
René: I think we’ve hammered home the point that war is hell with all those death scenes. How about a happy ending to give the audience a break?
Pierre, who still hasn’t left his corner, spits on the ground in disgust.
Jean (stammering): Paulette has to leave Michel’s family and is reunited with a distant Aunt?
Pierre walks over to Jean and slaps him in the face with all his might. Jean, holding back tears, stands up.
Jean: How about Michel is about to be beaten within an inch of his life and Paulette is taken away to live in an orphanage? She waits at the train station and sees all these reunions around her. Someone yells the name, ‘Michel’, which causes her to run away from the nun, in search of the only person alive who cared for her.
Everyone in the room high fives and opens another bottle of champagne. Pierre nods ever so slightly and leaves the room, his job done.
He returns seconds later to gather the trash from the bin, remembering his real job, nods again, and walks out.
Final review: 4/5. Depressing as hell, but an interesting perspective at least
Up next: Glengarry Glen Ross