Though Europe may be ravaged by the horrors of World War II, life in the French Pyrenees has remained remarkably untouched for thirteen-year-old shepherd, Jo Lalande. That is, until the day he encounters Jewish refugee, Benjamin, hiding in the mountains, and learns of an operation to smuggle Jewish children to safety in Spain. In a heroic act of defiance Jo promises to assist Benjamin in his endeavours, but soon becomes embroiled in a perilous conspiracy when German troops descend upon the village.
Almost a Beauty and the Beast
- Waiting for Anya review by GS
The Beauty here, of course, is the fabulous setting of this film in the French Pyranees so gorgeously photographed. The Beast is the telling once again of the vicious cruelty of Hitler's Nazi regime, the evil bred of servility of the ordinary Wermacht soldier and the toadying compliance of the French Vichy State in dealing with Jews. Amongst all the cruelty and indifference to the suffering of so many we have a story that reveals the bravery and kindness of those in a small village who, at great personal risk, deliver to freedom a few lucky Jewish children over the mountains to Spain.
Strong performances are made by all the main characters, my favourite being Jean Reno as the proud grandfather. It is a sad but often brave and beautiful story well told and well worth a watch.