Submitted by Julio M


Oscar Nominee – Best Foreign Language Film; Best Original Screenplay

While the surrounding repression of the Nazis manifests more and more on everyone’s daily lives -visible on an incident in which a Milice group, close collaborators of the Wehrmacht, gets kicked off a restaurant for trying to harass a Jewish patron, and Julien (Gaspard Manesse), his parents and “Bonnet” (Raphaël Fejtö) witness it-, things also take a sour turn at the school. Joseph (François Négret), the kitchen aide, is accused of selling school food supplies on the black market and fired; while questioned about it, he points out, among many others, Julien and his older brother François (Stanislas Carré de Malberg), as accomplices. Despite knowing this, Père Jean (Philippe Morier-Genoud) does not expel the boys.

In retaliation, Joseph denounces the presence of Jewish students in the school to the Gestapo, and they arrive and raid the premises during a January 1944 morning. Julien, who accidentally reveals “Bonnet” -in reality, called JEAN KIPPELSTEIN- as his classroom is scouted by the Nazi officers, discovers this when he runs into Joseph and figures it all out; Joseph justifies himself by alluding “there is a war around”, after which they part ways exchanging hateful looks. The Gestapo orders the school to be closed and everyone, except the Jewish pupils, to be sent off; upon this, Julien and “Bonnet” exchange books one last time, as they pack their belongings.

With everyone rounded up in the courtyard, a Gestapo officer scolds Père Jean for being “weak and undisciplined” and incurring in what was deemed as an illegal action. Père Jean, “Bonnet”, Negus (Arnaud Henriet) and Dupre (Damien Salot) are arrested and taken away; as they all leave, Père Jacques turns and bids farewell to the children, saying: “AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS!! À BIENTOT!!” (“Goodbye, Children!! See you soon!!”), to which they respond: “AU REVOIR, MON PÈRE!!” (“Goodbye, My Father!!”). Also, Julien and “Bonnet” share one final sad goodbye from afar. Everyone else is sent off.

The movie ends with a voiceover from an adult Julien is heard, where he explains that the three Jewish kids -“Bonnet”, Negus and Dupre- died in Auschwitz, and, for his actions, Père Jean was sent to Mauthausen, where he also died -historically, shortly after the camp’s liberation by the Allied Forces-. Also, the school was reopened in October of that same year and, despite many years passed, he would never forget what happened that day in January for as long as he lived.

01 hours 44 minutes