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Jeux Interdits

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					                                           Jeux Interdits




    Jeux Interdits

Film Guide Brendan Maher



                           fresh film festival 2006   
Jeux Interdits


Jeux Interdits                          Introduction                              Director Rene Clément
aka Forbidden Games                     Rene Clément’s 95 film explores         Despite numerous awards and a
                                        the emotional trauma of war on            career that covered over forty years
Directori Rene Clément/                 a five-year-old girl, how she deals       in cinema, Rene Clément died in com-
France/95/87 mins/b&w)                with this trauma and also, how it is      parative obscurity in 996.
                                        reflected in the world around her.                Clément was born in Bordeaux
Cast                                    Set during the Second World War,          in 93 and studied architecture at
Brigitte Fossey Paulette                five-year-old Paulette’s parents are      the Ecole Des Beaux Arts. Here he
Georges Poujouly Michel Dollé           killed as her family is fleeing a Nazi    developed an interest in film-making.
Lucien Hubert Dollé, the Father         attack. She comes into the care of        In 936, he directed his first film,
Suzanne Courtal Mme Dollé               the country peasant Dollé family and      ‘Soigne ton gauche’ a 0-minute
Jacques Marin Georges Dollé             becomes friends with their little boy     short starring comic actor Jacques
Laurence Badie Berthe Dollé             Michel. Michel and Paulette, con-         Tati. Clément continued to make
Andre Wasley Gouard, the Father         fronted by death around them, build       short films up until 945 when he
Amedee Francis Gouard                   a small graveyard for animals – pets      filmed the French Resistance story
Denise Pereonne Jeanne Gouard           or farm animals that have died. The       ‘La bataille du Rail’ aka ‘The Battle
Louis Sainteve Priest                   children’s attempts to perfect the        of the Rails’ which won a major prize
Pierre Merovee Raymond Dollé            graveyard bring them into conflict        at the Cannes Film Festival. Over the
                                        with the adult world. However the         following years Clément’s reputation
Production                              children perhaps are only replicating,    soared and he won Best Foreign Film
Producer Robert Dorfmann                in a more simple and innocent form,       Oscars for ‘Au-delà des grilles’ aka
Director Rene Clément                   the inherent hypocrisies and petty        ‘The Walls of Malapaga’ (948) and
Writer Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost,      jealousies of that world.                 ‘Jeux interdits’ (95).
       Rene Clément                             Clément’s film is often                   Clément’s skill is that of the
Adapted from the novel                  described as an anti-war film and it      detached observer, allowing his
‘Les Jeux Inconnus’ by Francois Boyer   certainly works on that level. The film   characters to make a link with the
Editor Roger Dwyre                      also offers and unusual and calm          audience. His films are calm and
Musical Composer Narciso Yepes          reflection on the nature of psychologi-   reserved, preserving a natural tone,
Art Director Paul Bertrand              cal trauma and how it reveals itself.     without the director making any
Cinematographer Robert Juillard         The honours go to Clément and his         major flourishes within the story. This
                                        two young leads, who are up to the        non-leading style however is all the
                                        task of bringing this difficult subject   more compelling given the audience’s
                                        to the screen.                            strong recognition of character and
                                                                                  situation in his films.
                                                                                          Clément continued to have
                                                                                  international success with several
                                                                                  films and his 960 film ‘Plein Soleil’
                                                                                  aka ‘Purple Noon’ should be noted.
                                                                                  It’s based on the book ‘The Talented
                                                                                  Mr. Ripley’ by Patricia Highsmith (it
                                                                                  was more recently made into a film by
                                                                                  director Anthony Minghella with Matt
                                                                                  Damon as Ripley). Clément’s 966
                                                                                  star-studded epic ‘Paris brûle-t-il?
                                                                                  aka ‘Is Paris Burning?’ written by
                                                                                  American writer Gore Vidal and nas-
                                                                                  cent director Francis Ford Coppola
                                                                                  was however, a box office failure.
                                                                                          Clément’s cinematic style
                                                                                  was over-taken somewhat by the
                                                                                  more knowing styles of the French




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                                                                                                             Jeux Interdits




Nouvelle Vague movement in the                    Michel brings her back to his      ensues between the two families.
960’s and 70’s. However he did have      house, a small cottage, and the            The local priest reveals that Michel is
some minor successes with later films,    family who is called Pollé accepts her.    the thief of the crosses.
making his last film in 975. In 984             Paulette buries her dog in an              Michel runs away. Sneaking
the French motion picture industry hon-   old mill and Michel helps. He makes        back home to speak to Paulette he
oured him with a special César Award      a cross to mark the site. The children     finds that the police have arrived, not
for a lifetime contribution to film.      begin to bury all the dead creatures       to arrest him however, but to bring
                                          they find – a mole, chickens, etc.         her to an orphanage. His father prom-
Synopsis                                  Michel even kills some insects in          ises that Paulette can stay, if Michel
June 940, Paris is falling to the Ger-   order to have more creatures to bury.      tells them where the crosses are.
man invasion. Five year-old Paulette              Death also comes to the Pollé      Michel relents, telling him of the old
flees the city with her parents. On a     house, when Michel’s brother Georg-        mill. His father breaks his promise
country road, the Nazi planes bomb        es, injured in an earlier accident,        and Paulette is taken away.
the refugees. Paulette’s dog runs up      dies. Michel, egged on by Paulette,                Michel goes to the mill and
the road, she chases after him, her       steals crosses from the hearse and         destroys the graveyard.
parents following her. Her parents        from the church, in order to put them              Paulette is brought by a nun
are killed in the attack. Moved on by     up in the animal graveyard.                to a holding area and told that she
the swell of people, the separated                The Pollé’s are having a           is going to an orphanage. As the
Paulette carries the lifeless body of     disagreement with their next door          nun goes away on other business,
her dog into the countryside, where       neighbours, the Gouards and when           the waiting Paulette walks into the
she encounters Michel, a nine-year        the cross goes missing from their          crowded area and disappears amidst
old boy.                                  recently buried brother’s grave, a fight   the throng of people.




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Jeux Interdits


                                                                                   Production Details
 Historical Background                                                             One of the most interesting aspects
                                                                                   of ‘Jeux Interdits’ production is the
 The film is set during the Second World War (939-45) and the film’s main         fact the film started off as a short
 action set piece, the air raid, is a defining moment. However, whilst there is    film. This original short was to be
 talk of deserters between the feuding families with Gouard’s son returning        the middle part of a film with three
 from battle, the majority of the film is set in a pastoral France, away from      distinct segments. Funds dried up for
 the fighting. The following timeline should give an indication on outside         the full film with just ‘Jeux Interdits’
 events during the time the film is set in:                                        shot. Clément presented the short
                                                                                   to producer Robert Dorfmann who be-
 September 1939                           June 10th                                lieved that there was more of a story
 Britain and France declare war on        Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini        to be told and the film was extended
 Nazi Germany following Germany’s         declares war on France.                  and new funding secured. The cast
 invasion of Poland.                                                               and crew reconvened a year later to
                                          June 11th                                complete work. The child actors had
 10th May 1940                            Paris is under threat by rapidly         grown slightly and dresses and trou-
 Hitler launches attack on Western        advancing German forces. The             sers had to be lengthened. Georges
 front and invades France.                capital is declared an ‘open city’       Pojouly (Michel) also had to wear a
                                          – meaning that the city is unde-         wig for these new scenes as his hair
 23rd May                                 fended and should not be attacked        had been cut for a different film, in
 The German Army breaks through           or bombed. This measure is taken         the intervening time. The outcome is
 French lines at Sedan.                   to protect remaining civilians, who      virtually un-noticeable with the new
                                          have not evacuated.                      scenes merging faultlessly with the
 4th June                                                                          original production.
 340,000 British, French and              June 13th
 Belgian forces evacuate from Dun-        French troops abandon Paris              Trauma
 kirk in Northern France.                                                          ‘Trauma’ can mean the physical as-
                                          June 14th                                pects of an injury, however in psychia-
 June 7th                                 German troops enter Paris.               try, ‘trauma’ has assumed a different
 Rommel’s VII Panzer Division                                                      meaning and refers to an experience
 advance to Forges-les-Eaux -             June 16th                                that is emotionally painful, distress-
 37 miles in two days.                    French Prime Minister Paul Raynaud’s     ful, or shocking, which often results in
                                          cabinet, located in Bordeaux, is         lasting mental and physical effects.
 June 8th                                 ousted by Marshall Pétain.                        In ‘Jeux Interdits’, it’s obvious
 French troops withdraw from the                                                   that Paulette is emotionally trau-
 Somme region.                            June 17th                                matized by the loss of her parents.
                                          Pétain broadcast to the French           Added to this, is the fact that she
                                          people urging them to stop fighting.     hasn’t been given any chance to
                                          He also asks the Germans for the         grieve her loss. She takes her dog’s
                                          terms of an armistice.                   body with her, perhaps because it is
                                                                                   something she can carry that repre-
                                          22nd June                                sents her loss.
                                          Pétain signs armistice with Germany.              In burying the dog, Paulette
                                          France is divided into occupied and      begins a ritual in which she may
                                          unoccupied zones. The Germans            be playing out her grief - a way of
                                          directly control three-fifths of the     compensating for not having had the
                                          country including northern and western   opportunity with her parent’s death.
                                          France and the entire Atlantic coast.    The ritual becomes even more
                                          The remaining section of the country     elaborate as time goes on, with the
                                          is to be administered by a French        number of animals in the cemetery
                                          government at Vichy under Pétain.        increasing and also in the develop-
                                                                                   ment of the ritual i.e. the names of




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                                                                                                               Jeux Interdits




the animals; the wish to put up more        belief that an individual’s free will is   and human by making animals the
beautiful crosses.                          not central to their actions but rather    cause of future human actions e.g.
        Taking their lead from adult rit-   that their actions are the result of ex-   Paulette’s dog running away, Michel’s
uals, the children re-enact the burial      ternal forces such as one’s heredity       cow escaping and the horse being
rite. Paulette is innocently going with     and environment.                           frightened by the plane and injur-
both her feelings and taking from the               This viewpoint would suggest       ing Georges Dollé. In this way, the
adult world. Michel is more conscious       that human beings can only have a          director interweaves the lives of brute
of what he is doing, understanding          limited control over their lives and       animals with the lives of the humans.
right and wrong but perhaps wanting         that indeed, they may act in a similar             Paulette and Michel’s animal
to please this little girl.                 fashion to animals.                        graveyard becomes as elaborate as
        The film suggests that Pau-                 This notion can clearly be seen    the human cemetery, because Pau-
lette does not ultimately complete          at work in ‘Jeux Interdits’ because        lette wishes it so. Michel is obliged to
her grieving process and she is             the film’s action is dictated by:          steal from the church and graveyard
doomed to wander. Michel on the oth-        a)      The savage bombing of the          and put the crosses in the animal
er hand, deals with his unhappiness                 fleeing refugees.                  graveyard and in this way, the human
in losing Paulette at the end of the        and internally or instinctively, by        and animal world are mixed together.
film though another outlet – anger.         b)      Paulette’s unconcious desire       Paulette’s unconcious need to grieve
                                                    to deal with her loss.             does not make distinctions between
Style: Story                                                                           human and animal.
Although not overt, Clément’s film                Furthermore, Clément                         This mixing of the human
story veers towards naturalism – a          expands this link between animal           and animal world can then be traced




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Jeux Interdits


back to the start of the film and the      (e.g. keeping the grave tidy, saying      Further information
essential savagery of the Nazi attack      prayers) than any inner spirituality.     Books/Articles
on the fleeing people. This attack is      It interesting to note that Michel        1001 films you must see before
reflected in Michel’s blatant killing of   is asked to recite prayers for his        you die
the cockroach. The adult, child and        brother. The rest of the family does      ed. Stephen Jay Schneider,
animal world are interlinked.              not seem to know them.                    pub. Cassell, 003

Comic Interlude                            Summing Up                                Children In the Movies
Running alongside the main story of        Jeux Interdits is rightly regarded as     Neil Sinyard, pub. Batsford Books,
the creation of the animal cemetery        a classic of French cinema. Disimilar     99
is the story of the feud between the       to other films dealing with trauma,
Dollé’s and the Gouards. We have           it doesn’t attempt to bluntly state       Death and the Maiden
no notion of when this feud began,         cause and effect. Instead it is left to   Essay by Peter Matthews as part of
but we are introduced to it in the first   the audience to make connections          Criterion Collection DVD edition of
scene outside the Dollé’s house.           with the actions of the children and      ‘Jeux Interdits’
        Elements of the feud relate to     adults in the film. The film is natu-
a suggested desertion by Raymond           ralistic in style and in view, with the   The Complete Film Dictionary
Dollé from the army, a jealousy over       children’s characters being driven        Ira Konigsberg, pub. Bloomsbury, 997
Francis Gouard’s supposed bravery          by external factors far out of their
and medal-winning and Michel Dol-          control. Clément attempts to link all     Websites
lé’s movements around the Gouard           behaviour in the film as base and         ‘Andre Bazin on Rene Clément and
house. Ultimately the feud is depict-      fundamental, with the pettiness           literary adaptation: Two original
ed as comic and provides moments           and cruelty of the adult world, the       reviews’: www.findarticles.com
of light relief throughout the story.      innocence of the children and the
        Both families are seen as          wildness of brute beast undefined         Information on Trauma:
petty-minded buffoons who take             and interconnected.                       www.trauma-pages.com
a particular delight in seeing the
other family fail. The result of their                                               Other Films
animosity is the fight in the grave-                                                 La Regle Du Jeu aka The Rules of
yard between both fathers, which is                                                  the Game
broken up by the priest’s revelation                                                 Dir Jean Renoir/France/939
that Michel is the one who has stolen
the crosses.                                                                         The Pied Piper
        The family’s interaction with                                                Dir. Irving Pichel/USA/94
the Church is interesting also in that
they seem concerned that Paulette                                                    Jean De Florette
has no knowledge of religion (the film                                               Dir. Claude Berri/France/986
may suggest that she is in fact Jew-
ish). However, it is evident that the                                                Empire of the Sun
family are religious on the surface                                                  Dir. Stephen Spielberg/USA/987
only and are more interested in the
outward displays of religion




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