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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Forbidden Games

As as an enormous long-time fan of The Film Experience, I’m thrilled to join Nathaniel and other great bloggers for this edition of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” where participants choose their favorite shot from a chosen movie.  This week is “Forbidden Games,” a 1952 French film by Rene Clement.

Childhood is such a mysterious thing.  We’ve all gone through it, and yet seem to forget so much of what it was like.  One of the things I love about being a teacher of third graders is the chance to see a period of life through children's eyes.

In Forbidden Games, Rene Clement invites us to do the same, experiencing the terrors of the world through two fiercely committed children.  These children are living in the cold, hard world of World War II, and the adults around them are not much help.  As death, destruction, and heartbreak happens around them, they remain focused on a feud with their neighbors.

This shot perfectly encapsulates much of the movie.  Young Paulette is working through her feelings of grief through her care for the graves of dead animals.  Religion is also new to her, and she is also constructing a childhood theology of how it works, with help from young Michel.

As they play their childhood games of creating graves for dead animals, this shot shows the intrusion of the uncaring adult world as Michel’s father creeps up the stairs to disillusion them further.  I also love how the subtitle froze on this scene.  As the children say “Our Father who art in heaven,” MIchel’s actual father (and adult reality) comes not from heaven, but from below...

Forbidden Games is a strange and haunting movie (available on Netflix instant watch) that was new to me, and it’s unique take on the antiwar genre is well worth seeing.

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