11 October 2006 | Ostrakosmos
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.