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This film based on the book by Tatiana de Rosnay, starring the luminous, talented Kristin Scott Thomas should be seen, if only for its historical accuracy. On July 16, 1942 the French police rounded up 13,000 Jews, many from the Marais district in Paris; cramping them in suffocating conditions in an indoor bicycle -racing stadium (Velodrome d’Hiver), before transporting them to the transit camp at Beaune-la-Rolande, segway to Auschwitz.

2002: Thomas ,is Julia Jarmond an American journalist, married to a French architect, living in Paris. She is fascinated by this little known event, a black mark in the archives of French history; researching, she finds ties to her husband’s family and in her quest for the truth unearths herself.

“Sarah” remarkably depicted by Melusine Mayance, is part of the round-up but strives to protect her younger brother by locking him in a closet and making him promise not to escape until she comes for him. The ingenuity, passion, perseverance of this ten –year- old child is riveting, powerful,  kidnapping the viewer. The film, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, is pulsating, pivotal in scenes from the past, but lugubrious, plodding, sinking to the banal, bland in the present day.

“Sarah’s Key” is a good film but “Rosenstrasse” a German film made in 2003 is a great film. There are amazing parallels: two young Jewish girls, cut adrift from their families, resourceful, enterprising, rescued by non-Jews; fates fashioned by horrific circumstances; survival, lives crippled by “man’s inhumanity to man”.

Both films revolve around viable, documented circumstances, within 10 months of each other. In May 1943, Berlin; Aryan women married to Jews, imprisoned in a government building on Rosenstrasse Street picketed, lobbied and miraculously won the release of their men. This hypnotic, flawless movie directed by Margarethe von Trotta clutches in its provocative jaws the mind, spirit, conscience of the viewer.

These films will not appeal to the movie masses; those craving the grotesque, neck-sucking night nymphs, adorable aliens, sex with strangers, or friends, relegating intimacy to the level of a Pilates class.  These movies provide enrichment, enlightenment for those thirsting for veracity, accountability, justification for victims of atrocity; painful acknowledgment and remembering, remembering, the ultimate tangible, substantial tool of prevention.


For Now………..Peneflix

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  1. I listen to the book “Sarah’s Key.” I “read” all my books while driving in the car. It was fascinating. At times it was so horrible to listen to, I was tempted to shut it off. But, the author told the story from the point of view of a reporter researching the story. She wrapped Sarah’s story in her own story. Then just when you thought you couldn’t listen to any more, she brought you back to the present and the fascination of wondering what would happen next. It was a story well told.

  2. Great review, Peneflix! I agree with you on “Sarah’s Key”, a beautifully done film of a very tragic historical fact and personal story.
    Kristin Scott Thomas was perfect for the role and so was the young Sarah as a child!
    Have not seen “Rosentrasse”, but I know France is now coming to grips with the Holocaust more than in the past.
    Thanks for your perceptive reviews!!!

    • You will love “Rosentrasse”, a German flick dealing with similiar issues! Thank you for your insightful comments.! P

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