A timeless evocation of childhood innocence corrupted, René Clément’s Forbidden Games tells the story of a young girl orphaned by war and the farm boy she joins in a fantastical world of macabre play. At once mythical and heartbreakingly real, this unique film features astonishing performances by its child stars and was honored with a special foreign language film Academy Award in 1952. —The Criterion Collection
While an architecture student at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Rene Clement painstakingly assembled the animated film Cesar les Galous. He made his live-action directorial debut in collaboration with Jacques Tati with the 1936 short Soigne ton Gauche. Clement spent the latter half of the 1930s filming documentaries in the French territories of Africa and Arabia. In 1937, he and archaeologist Jules Barthou were in Yemen preparing for the documentary short L’Arabie Interdite when they were captured, jailed and given death sentences. The two were freed and Clement returned to France with the film. In 1946, Clement acted as technical consultant on Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946); this enabled him to finally direct a feature film on his own, the highly regarded “French resistance” melodrama La Bataille du rail, which blended the verisimilitude of Clement’s documentaries with the story-telling skills he’d gleaned from Cocteau. Though he’d begun his career with a cartoon and gained his… read more
Child psychology is fascinating in the way it employs fantasy and games to deny hard hitting reality and spawn happiness out of the blue; It's a futile and inconsequential past time to adults, but it's a reason for being to children. The film gets that, and closes on a sad note, perhaps advancing the notion that life is ultimately defined by loss and hardship
On the surface an anti-war film, but it transcends the narrow anti-war tract; it is hardly about war at all, and this is what makes it durable. Instead the children act out rituals proscribed by society, and these rituals centre not on war per se, but on death and the attendant pain of letting go.
A look at some of the best original French posters for the films in Film Forum’s current series: The French Old Wave.
From the beginning of this film, there is a heartbreaking statement about the loss of innocence in times of war as we see the sensitive little girl Paulette lose both her parents and her little dog… read review
Forbidden Games is one of the signal achievements of classic French cinema, a beautiful and unexpected film that details a child’s attempt to understand death in wartime with a ‘game’ that is equally… read review
After an unforgiving attack by the Nazis kills her parents and pet dog, five-year-old Paulette is left without a family or a home. A local peasant family kindly takes her in, their ten-year-old son… read review