CLEMENT, FORBIDDEN GAMES (LES JEUX INTERDITS)
(1952) 1HR 25 (LD)
THE DIRECTOR: RENE CLEMENT (1913-1996)
Born in Bordeaux, trained as architect. Met Jacques
Tati 1934, documentaries on North Africa and Arabia
1936; after fall of France demobilised from army and
begins working in film again; gains assistance of
resistance group; "Résistance-Fer"
in making film about railways and resitance which
becomes "The Battle of the Rails" (1946).
One of the members of the French New Wave who emerged
after WW2. Regarded as exemplar of French "quality"
films. Films: La Grande Pastorale (1943); The
Battle of the Rails (1945); Gervais (1956);
Is Paris Burning? (1966).
Meaning of the Title
The pseudo-religious rituals adopted by the two children
to mourn the dead is denounced by adults as a "forbidden
- the 5 year old Paulette - Brigitte Fossey the
11 year old Michel Dolle - Georges Poujouly
- Père Dolle - Lucien Herbert
- Mère Dolle - Suzanne Courtal
- Georges Dolle - Jacques Marin
- Berthe Dolle - Laurence Badie
- Père Gouard - Andre Wasley
- Francis Gouard - Amédée
- Jeanne Gouard - Denise Perronne
- Novel and Screenplay by François Boyer
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film 1952.
Set 1940 during the collapse of France under the
Nazi onslaught. Parisians are fleeing the capital
to escape the Nazi Stukas which are straffing columns
of refugees. The 5 year old Paulette watches as her
parents are gunned down and then flees to find refuge
with a country family. Paulette strikes up a friendship
with the farmers' young son Michel with whom she reenacts
repeatedly the ritual of burying and mourning the
dead in a cemetry they create for themselves in an
abandoned barn. Although they adopt many of the Catholic
rituals they observe their elders carrying out, the
two young children obviously do not understand the
intricacies of what they are doing, thus providing
the director with an opportunity to comment upon the
private side of the death caused by war as well as
the tradition-bound behaviour of provincial French
and Christian Europe.
THINGS TO NOTE
- The extraordinary acting of the two main child
- The commentary on the need to mourn the dead,
especially in wartime.
- The implied criticism of the role of the Church
in the events leading up to and during WW2. The
Church's inability to cope with the demands of total
war in the 20thC. It seems naive children have a
better understanding than the institutions of organised
- The impact of war on children and their inevitable
loss of innocence. Poujouly was discovered in a
camp for deprived children. The final scene when
Fossey is returned to Paris to an institution for
the hundreds of other child victims of war.
- The sense of hope that the human spirit will prevail
in spite of the events of the mid-20thC.
- The divided opinion of critics about the importance
of this film. The importance to English-speaking
audiences of this film a an example of the post-war
French New Wave cinema. One critic's observation
that this film is to WW2 what Renoir's Great
Illusion is to WW1. Another's view that it is
an example of "superficial fimmmaking"
which is now no better than a "museum piece".
- The contrast between the beautiful French countryside
and the events depicted in the film