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1942. Joseph Weisman (Hugo Leverdez) is 11 years old. On the morning of June 6, like all Jews in France, Jo learns that he is banned from parks, cinemas, fairgrounds and public gardens. On July 16 at 4am Jo and his family are hauled out of their beds and herded onto buses by French gendarmes and together with 13,000 other Jews are crammed into the Winter Velodrome in Paris, in the biggest round up in history, perpetrated by collaborating French police. The imprisoned Jews endure five days without water, food or healthcare. Dr Sheinbaum (Jean Reno) does what he can for the welfare of those around him. Annette Monod (Mélanie Laurent), a protestant Red Cross nurse, is appalled by the racism of her country's government of collaborators and attempts to provide aid to the Jews as their ordeal continues.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In December 2010, Australian audiences could see partial events of the 1942 round up of Jews in Paris by the local gendarmes, in flashbacks through the film, Sarah's Key, starring Kristin Scott Thomas as a contemporary writer researching the event. Now, in May 2011, we can see the entire, shocking true story as told here by Roselyn Bosch, from the accounts of one of a few survivors of the event, Joseph Weiseman.

The event has left a huge scar on the collective psyche of the French, prompting then newly elected President Jacques Chirac on the 75th anniversary of the round up to declare: "There are in the life of a nation times that wound the memory and the idea one has of one's country. It is difficult to talk about such times... That day, France, the cradle of Enlightenment and human rights, a safe haven for the oppressed, committed an unforgivable sin. Breaking its word, it delivered those it should protect to their executioners."

Seeing this film in that context it is hard not to be enraged and saddened. According to the elder Weiseman (who is seen in the film) Bosch has presented the story faithfully and accurately - and just how it felt. That is perhaps the most valuable praise she could ever expect.

As for the performances, it's great to see Moroccan born French actor Gad Elmaleh in a dramatic role after seeing him so effective in romantic comedies like Priceless and The Valet; he is excellent. The two stars - Jean Reno and Mélanie Laurent - who play characters doing all they can to help the victims of the round up, are faultless.

Bosch establishes the all important social context of life for the Jewish family (and others) before the fateful day of July 16, 1942, to ensure that we fully comprehend and viscerally sense the enormity of what happens, both in physical and psychological terms.

One of the most soul destroying aspects of the film - and it's proudly claimed to be entirely factual - is the preparations that lead up to the July 16 round up. In these scenes we see how morally bankrupt the Germans and Marshal Petain's collaborating French authorities are and how they use cunning to gloss over illegalities and amorality. In these moments we should fear the absence of any transparency of any bureaucracy or indeed executive Government.

But not all the French were collaborators: Parisians helped hide 10,000 Jews from the round up.

The Round Up is not a film to 'like'; it's a film to make us understand; it does that all too well.

Published August 31, 2011

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(France, 2010)

La rafle

CAST: Jean Reno, Melanie Laurent, Gad Elmaleh, Raphaelle Agoque, Hugo Leverdez, Joseph Weismann, Mathieu Di Concerto, Romain Di Concerto, Oliver Cywie, Sylvie Testud, Anne Brochet, Roland Cope,

PRODUCER: Alain Goldman

DIRECTOR: Roselyn Bosch

SCRIPT: Roselyn Bosch


EDITOR: Yann Malcor

MUSIC: Christian Henson

RUNNING TIME: 139 minutes






DVD RELEASE: August 31, 2011

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