Forbidden Games

"Excellent"

Forbidden Games Review


Few scenes in motion picture history are quite as devastating as one at the beginning of Forbidden Games -- not when young Paulette's (Brigitte Fossey) parents are gunned down in the street by a Nazi pilot during a routine strafing run of the French countryside -- but rather a few minutes later. Paulette is riding on a cart to what we assume will be a new life, carrying her puppy in her arms. The old woman she's riding with looks down at the dog and tells her to get rid of it: Can't she tell the dog is dead? The old woman then picks up the pup and tosses it off the cart. As it plummets off of a bridge our hearts sink with it.

This singular scene is heart-crushing and yet it sums up the theme of René Clément's film perfectly: In war, you can't count on even the simplest joys in life. The world is full of horror, and war is hell in worse ways than you could imagine.

Less outright horrible but more damning in the long term is the way in which Paulette shruggingly accepts the fact that everything she has loved has vanished in a moment. She ends up stumbling onto a farm, where she is begrudgingly adopted by the gruff father of a boy, Michel (Georges Poujouly), with whom she becomes fast friends. Their "forbidden game" -- despite the threat of "the ultimate loss of innocenece" in the film's misleading marketing -- is that they steal crosses from the church in order to build a makeshift pet cemetary on the farm. Natually this goes over poorly with the community.

Aside from this makeshift story, not much happens in Forbidden Games, and after the gut punch of the film's beginning the last half of the film is a bit too drastic of a change of pace. Somewhere along the way -- culminating with Michel and Paulette getting busted for stealing crosses -- Clément's story gets a little muddy, and the message fades a bit in power.

Nonetheless, this is powerful filmmaking in more ways than one, a story of innocence lost that you won't soon forget. (The film also won the Best Foreign Film Oscar.)

The film's Criterion restoration is top notch, and the transfer to DVD is gorgeous. An alternate opening and ending are included along with several interviews with Clément and an adult Fossey.

Aka Jeux interdits.



Forbidden Games

Facts and Figures

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Monday 8th December 1952

Distributed by: Times Film Corporation

Production compaines: Contact Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 9

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: Becky Mullen as Linda, as Shauna, as Shannon Douglas, Ashlie Rhey as Trish, Jeff Griggs as Michael Brandon

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