The Round Up throws a powerful light on one of the most disturbing episodes in recent French history - the few weeks in July 1942 when the French police, at the direction of the Nazis, rounded up more than 13,000 Parisian Jews, including more than 4,000 children, and took them to the now notorious Velodrome d'Hiver stadium.
Jo Weismann (Hugo Leverdez) is an 11-year-old Jew living peacefully with his parents, siblings, and neighbors in 1942 France. Suddenly, the Jews are deemed undesirables and they are made to wear yellow stars on their persons at all times. At first they dismiss it as inane, even mocking the Nazi regime’s Fuhrer Adolf Hitler as nothing but a funny-looking, hyper-speech-talking man with a little mustache.
But on July 1942, Jo, his entire family, and other Jewish friends and neighbors are rounded up by French police collaborating with the Nazis. They are placed in the Winter Velodrome which usually houses cycling, circus, and other events. While there, the French Jews are maltreated and eventually shipped to concentration camps to Poland for extermination. This is one of the most controversial and saddest chapters of the Holocaust; the film The Round Up depicts it with much intensity.
Writer-director Rose Bosch makes a cinematic retelling of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, taking us into the divisive plan of the vichy government of France to give up the Jews instead of protecting them as French citizens. ‘The Round Up’ shows us that hatred is a great motivation for destruction and what was once a lush and quaint existence can be ripped to shreds by a few power-hungry bigots seated in government. Bosch’s decision to present events unfolding in the eyes of its young cast makes the film a more heartbreaking endeavor.
The film ‘The Round Up’ also boasts of other fine actors. Melanie Laurent is a Protestant nurse, while Jean Reno is a Jewish doctor who also gets rounded up with the others but together, they take it upon themselves to tend to the needs of the Jews – even coming up with ways how to free them.
This is a beautifully-shot film but still hard to watch especially since it’s based on real events. It’s worthy to be part of the roster that includes ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘The Pianist’.