15 March 2010

La Rafle

I went to the ciné again tonight (don't worry, mom, I did all of my homework), with three friends.  We went to see the French film La Rafle (and since it's in French, it was two good hours of oral comprehension!).  La Rafle means The Raid and is in reference to la rafle du Vel' d'Hiv. Vel' d'Hiv took place on July 16 & 17 1942, when over 13,000 Jews living in Paris and her suburbs were rounded up and locked into the Vélodrome d'Hiver (an indoor cycling arena that was designed by the same man who created the Tour du France) and then later brought to a temporary camp within France, but eventually to Auschwitz.

The film follows a Jewish Parisian family and their neighbors as we watch what French officials did and didn't do on their behalf.  I'm glad I had done my homework and walked in with an understanding of the historical context of the film.  I had known very little about life in France during WWII, but found it very interesting that for the most part, the Jews in Paris carried on with life as usual, with increasing restrictions as 16 & 17 July 1942 grew closer.  I was also surprised to find that there was an effort made by gentile neighbors to hide and look after the children of their Jewish friends and by the higher-ups to maintain Jewish French nationals . . . unsuccessful as that was, it was an attempt.


Apart from being another quality film that contains the full gamete of emotions and tells a remarkable story in a beautiful manner, it was a soirée of successful language learning!  My oral comprehension has definitely been lagging behind on the progress train, so I was beyond proud of myself when I understood a joke that the father (played by Gad Elmaleh, pictured left) made as he was sitting around the table with his family at the start of the film: he tells them that it was because of them that the Titanic sank.  When he gets the shocked response from his family he's looking for, he responds, "Iceberg, again, Jewish!" Yes, I was very proud of myself for getting that one!

So, as usual, when La Rafle finally makes it to your neck of the woods, go see it.  It's worth it.  (And sorry the trailer is in French, it's all I could find.)

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