Rene Clement’s Forbidden Games (1952) is the classic French picture which centers on two youngsters living in rural France in 1940 as German planes invade the air space and drop bombs on various sites in the country.
When death pervades in the sphere of children is what the film is about but, plainly, additional themes obtain as well. One of them is the ineffectiveness of religion in causing people, such as the peasant family, to behave as they ought. This goes only so far, however. Usually the conduct of clergy in Forbidden Games is unobjectionable, and at any rate it isn’t as though Catholicism is not needed in rural France. But although the kids here play what is easily termed a forbidden game—for it involves theft—adults in those German planes are playing a worse forbidden game involving murder. It is an extreme on a scale of adult games.
(In French with English subtitles)
The Wind and the Lion (1975) is an adventure yarn with Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) as one of the chief characters. If director-writer John Milius admires Roosevelt, as I have read, why did he fail to make him a serious man? Keith’s performance is fine; Milius’s writing is not. It turns ludicrous.
Wind also stars Sean Connery (good) and Candice Bergen (bad). Appearing as well is John Huston, whose presence produced in me the desire to see The Man Who Would Be King, for it’s a much better period piece than this.
In Suicide Killers, a 2006 documentary by Pierre Rehov, would-be Muslim suicide bombers prove they are eaten up with religion. Bad religion. Arabs who abhor the bombers’ violence are here too, and they also are Muslims. One of them, an Israeli Arab, says he was completely changed by the experience of a Jewish woman dying in his arms after a jihadist explosion. This is rational, but irrationality is what carries the day. To a Palestinian terrorist, to kill a Jew is to serve Allah: One of them tells himself, “You didn’t kill them, God killed them” . . . The Israeli bombing survivors whom Rehov interviews—all of whom are women (why no men?)—are not exactly insouciant about the jihadist attacks. A woman named Yael was so traumatized she is now “scared of everything.” I’m glad Rehov didn’t neglect these survivors.
The movie touches on the poverty of the Palestinian people, but also on the tendency of Arab dictatorships to keep their people poor—people who firmly believe in the hereafter and are so often anti-Jewish. A recipe for terrorist action, this.