Forbidden Games Film Review
A 1952 effort from the well respected French director René Clément, Forbidden Games is a powerful dramatic piece that looks at the loss of childhood innocence during World War II.
From the opening scenes it is evident that Clément was not pulling any punches with this work. The harrowing shots of the German bombing of a civilian convey are as powerful today as they would have been in 1952. The scene culminates in the death of a young Paulette (Brigitte Fossey)’s parents and pet dog, leaving her alone to fend for herself. It’s here the film’s story really kicks in, we follow her as she is found and taken in by a rural family.
It’s her friendship with the young farmer’s boy Michel (Georges Poujouly) that begins to cause issues for the duo, they begin to steal crosses from churches and graveyards which lands them in trouble time and time again. It’s a very clever plot device that effectively highlights the loss of innocence during wartime.
As for the child actors, they deliver quite simply two of the best children’s performances ever committed to screen. Both are completely comfortable with the material and they seem completely un-phased, delivering performances way beyond their years. Be warned though the scenes in which Paulette is carrying around her dead dog are a particularly difficult watch but immensely powerful at the same time.
Visually the film is astounding, a virtual master class in the use of shadow within the black and white medium. Despite the age of the film it still looks absolutely stunning from the large scale opening to the more scaled back interior farmhouse scenes.
The film is thematically and visually similar to Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and one assumes that Forbidden Games was undoubtedly a touch stone for Haneke’s excellent work. This should give some indication to the weight this film carries and the influence Clement still has on this generation of filmmakers.
Visually flawless and heartbreakingly emotional, this ranks as classic work and should be watched by anyone with even a passing interest in cinema. Absolutely superb.