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Forbidden Games Movie Review

film clement paulette michel

François Boyer wrote the screenplay for Les Jeux Interdits in 1946, but World War II was over and no one wanted to see another war movie. So he turned it into a novel and producer Robert Dorfman WAS interested in making a movie of a successful book. An entirely new screenplay was drafted by Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost with director Rene Clement (1913–96), who decided to film the story on a farm that was actually poor, as indicated in the script. He began a search for the two children who were to star in the picture. Brigitte Fossey, who was heartrending as the orphaned Paulette, was only five years old. Georges Poujouly, who would play Michel, was just eleven. The narrative sticks with the kids to show the horrors of war. Michel protects Paulette from the sadness and loneliness of her situation by coming up with a game to bury dead animals they find in the countryside and placing crosses (stolen from the church cemetery) on top of their homemade graves. The game comforts them both, although the adults are none too pleased by the sacrilegious aspect of the rituals. Under pressure, Michel says he will give up the crosses if the grown-ups promise they won't take Paulette away. They agree, and Michel learns, much too young, about the ugliness of betrayal. Paulette's fate, to wander among a crowd of other refugees, is devastating. She cries for “Michel!” over and over again. The “Forbidden Games,” along with the kind little boy who nurtured her, are lost to her. Forever? We don't know about Paulette and Michel, but in real life, Fossey went on to a successful acting career when she grew up. In one of her most intriguing pictures, 1984's The Future of Emily (co-starring Ivan Desny and Hildegarde Knef), she played an actress reflecting on her career since childhood. At one point, she discusses a role she played at five, sighing, “it was my best performance.” (Fossey's other films include The Wanderer, Honor Among Thieves, Going Places, Blue Country, The Man Who Loved Women, Quintet, Chanel Solitaire, La Boum, Enigma, and The Last Butterfly.) Poujouly also found work—as a supporting actor in other French films, including 1958's Frantic. And Jacques Marin, who plays Georges, continued to appear as a character actor in international films for many years. The initial reaction to Clement's film was mixed. Although Forbidden Games won many awards in Italy, Britain, and America, including an Oscar, the French were horrified by the way their post-war society appeared to the rest of the world. But Forbidden Games remains the best known and most treasured French film of its time. (Clement's other films include The Walls of Malapaga, Gervaise, The Day and the Hour, Joy House, Is Paris Burning?, Rider on the Rain, and And Hope to Die). AKA: Les Jeux Interdits.

1952 90m/B FR Brigitte Fossey, Georges Poujouly, Amedee, Louis Herbert, Suzanne Courtal, Jacques Marin, Laurence Badie, Andre Wasley, Louis Sainteve; D: Rene Clement; W: Rene Clement, Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost, Francois Boyer; C: Robert Juillard; M: Narciso Yepes. British Academy Awards ‘53: Best Film; New York Film Critics Awards ‘52: Best Foreign Film; Venice Film Festival ‘52: Best Film; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘54: Best Story. VHS, LV

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