Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Round Up

It is very rare indeed that I watch a movie and I am so moved to the extent that it instigates me to write about it on this blog. The Round Up (la rafle) is such a movie. A French film (with subtitles) about the true story of the events leading up to the early morning of 16th July 1942 in Paris which was; the rounding up of 14 000 Jews in Paris and their being sent to the Velodrome d’Hiver.

The conditions in the Velodrome were appalling. The Jews remained there for eight days, without much food and water –only that provided by the Red Cross and the Pompiers, with only ten toilets, of which only five were in any working order.

Following this, they were sent from Gare d’Austerlitz to the internment camp at Drancy. And from there they were deported to the east-and we all know what that meant.

The movies focus is on a few individuals and specifically the experiences of an eleven year old boy; Joseph Weismann, whose entire family were rounded up on that morning. Jo was the only child out of 4051 children to survive by escaping from the Drancy camp. He is still alive today and was interviewed extensively for this film. The strange thing about the film was that even though it had been advertised in the Jewish Chronicle, there were very few movie theatres where it was showing, and where we went there were only four other people present!

A few points to ponder: The Vichy government under Marshall Petain deported 75000 Jews from France, many of whom did not survive. The complicity of the French is a stain on their national character. The police and other organisations were all guilty in their involvement.

However, with all that you cannot forget the French citizens who did come to the aid of the Jews. Over 10000 Jews were hidden on that morning of the rafle du vel d’hiver. Many people risked their own lives to help save Jewish lives.

In my opinion The Round Up is a film well worth seeing. The acting and cinematography is superb and the dialogue is excellent. Go and see it and tell me what you think, but don’t take your wife out to see it on your wedding anniversary.

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