The Boy Soldier

1981 [FRENCH]

Drama / War

IMDb Rating 7 10 174

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1.99 GB
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24 fps
1 hr 59 min
P/S 8 / 18

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 8 / 10

Do or die.

After several indifferent movies,Boisset came up in 1981 with his best film since "Dupont-Lajoie" (1974)."Allons z'enfants" is Boisset doing what Boisset does best:activist militant cinema.

Yves Gibeau's novel was tailor-made for him.Anti-militarism is the keyword.Rarely (with the exception of "RAS" (1973)) Boisset had displayed such hatred for the army.The "Enfants de Troupe" ,those military secondary schools which lasted till the early sixties in France ,are unthinkable today.The hero,who is an intellectual (he loves cinema,literature) and a sensitive -but not a sissy- guy is sent to one of those schools by his father (a great Jean Carmet);it's a place where childhood is stolen,where the iron discipline rules everywhere,where you cannot think ,where you cannot read what you want: Erich Maria Remarque who was both a pacifist and a German and his "im Western nicht Neues" are not the welcome in the barracks.Neither is Flaubert's "Madame Bovary" which ,in the hospital,the mother superior considers an adulteress affair.

Remarkable scenes:

-the beating up in the gym.

-the scene in the cafe where the owner blames the father :"you're not a father to him,you are his warrant officer!

-the funeral and the takeover by the army of Chalumot's death ,a "hero" ,who "sets an example of patriotism for the young generations to come". Boisset is at his most vitriolic style.Let's mention the dad's final line,the dad who does not shed a tear over his unfortunate son and who draws a heavy sigh "He coulda been an officer".

"Allons z'enfants" are the first words of the French national anthem "LA Marseillaise" .

NB:To reward his men,the officer shows them Raymond Bernard's "Les Croix de Bois" as an example of patriotic movie.This film showed the soldier's bravery,that's true,but Bernard's purpose was to stigmatize the horrors of war ,in an almost documentary style.

Reviewed by Ostrakosmos 8 / 10


It was a couple of years ago that I watched this movie - I never forgot it.

The plot is the coming of age of a young boy who, in the 1930s, is sent by his parents to a military academy in France and becomes, unwillingly, an officer cadet. As kind of a "daydreamer"-type boy, he has his problems adapting to the military, but experiences true friendship with fellow comrades. This helps him through the difficult times of youth. When he is about to graduate from the military academy, it happens to be the eve of WW2, and in autumn of 1939 he is sent as a "grunt" directly to the front. There, he is getting into one of the first German vs. French skirmishes during the "phony war". He witnesses a German soldier being seriously wounded and spontaneously tries to save his enemy combatant from the line of fire. He does not survive this.

At first just getting you stunned, this warm-hearted, humane film after all deeply impresses. Its abstinence from hail of glory, its sensitivity and its straight statement in favor of human dignity - even the more under the terrible circumstances of war - are especially remarkable. The best die the first, they say. Did they die in vain? Anyway - may their deaths be remembered like in this film.

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