Dangerous Games
. 1952

Director: Rene Clement

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

A nazi flyer descends, guns blazing, leaving in its wake one survivor, five year old Paulette (Brigitte Fossey). Her mother & father lay dead, & her puppy, which she tried to shield with her own body, has had the life crushed out of it. Clutching her dead dog, she sets out on her own.

Dangerous GamesSo begins this dreamily horrific yet beautiful antiwar film Forbidden Games (1952) told from the point of view of the little girl & partially from the point of view of a young boy (Georges Poujouly).

Together they establish a graveyard for animals that die amidst the hostilities, & sneak about stealing cemetery crosses for the animals. They try in their heroic childish ways to cope with & understand what is going on in the world.

These two performances have rarely been equalled by child actors, though other films with awesome kids include the boy in The Little Fugitive (1952) who escapes to Coney Island convinced he has murdered his brother; the two girls in Angela (1995) coping with their mother's clinical depression by creating their own alternate reality; the brother & sister in Night of the Hunter (1955) stalked by a murderous preacher; or the short film about the wee Parisian lad followed about by The Red Balloon (1956).

These are among the films that reveal an innocence & natural acting ability of which children are occasionally capable, if they are in the right director's hands, capturing perfectly the angst, wonder, & pain so often experienced by children but so rarely caught on film.

Although Forbidden Games doesn't quite vere into fantasy, the childrens' perspective on war & death & superstition & faith has a certain phantasmagoria. And the magic-feeling cinematography of the rural countryside, & village architecture like a portrait of Eld fallen into Hell, gives this film a poetic magic realist resonance. This together with the tale's deep humanity helps make viewing such agonies poignant & bearable.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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