Sarah's Key

Elle s'appelait Sarah (2010) - IMDb

Sarah’s Key is a French film based off of the novel of the same name written by Tatiana De Rosnay. I originally read the book for an English project a couple years back. I really enjoyed the story and it was well executed. It is a very original war story about a real event I had never even heard about. I’ve always been particularly interested in the World War I and World War II era. Basically, I have always been keen for history in general. What I liked about this story is that it was unique to typical North American war stories. Since it is a French story it offers a fresh perspective to someone who isn’t  familiar with the effects of war in another country. The film highlights a part of the Holocaust that I assume most people don’t know about. It was by reading the book that I found the movie. For people from Toronto or who are interested in the Canadian film scene, something I found interesting about the film was that it had premiered at TIFF in 2010.

What I found intriguing about the story is that it switches perspective between the years 1942 and 2002. In 1942, the perspective is a young Jewish girl named Sarah, and her experience during the events of the Holocaust. In 2002, the focus shifts to a female journalist who wants to discover what happened to Sarah for her story on the anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundups. In 1942 the film takes place in nazi occupied France and begins at the young girl Sarah’s apartment. In 2002, Julia and her family plan to move into that same apartment where they learn the truth about how her husband’s family came to own the apartment. This is how she discovers that her life is intertwined with Sarah's story. I think it is really compelling how the story is told by women. I find with a lot of mainstream stories about WWII that they are usually told through the point of view of men.

The story is unique and incredible. However, I found the novel to be better than the film. The film felt rushed and missed important details in the novel that I thought helped to link other aspects of the story together. For example, the film version cut out a lot of scenes where Julia’s husband was rude to her. So when she left him in the film it didn’t look like there was a reason behind her decision. Obviously, they couldn’t put every detail in the film version, especially a novel with as much detail as this one. I just felt that the selection of scenes chosen could have been different and allowed for a better interpretation of such an incredible story.

I think a film like this can really help expand what people believe film can be. Watching international films is so important and allows for people to gain different perspectives especially on world issues. I think today this is a more important idea than ever. This film shows how film can be used to teach us about key moments in history in a visual way. Something I liked about this film is it had really nothing to do with America, a typically seen view in mainstream media. Film is an immersive and eye-opening way to learn about different ideas and cultures.

As a woman and a younger viewer I think by the story being told in the perspective of women, it made it easier to connect with. Additionally, I found that the film allowed for a visual representation of life in that time period. I have never experienced war, especially WWII and thus, I don’t know what the effects it had on the world looked like at that period of time. That’s where the learning aspect of film comes in. By utilizing the medium of film over written works, I believe we can truly teach each other about different cultures and things you will never experience.

Therefore, I think the film is extremely eye opening and serves as a story worth telling. I really enjoyed this novel and film and believe it is something everyone should either read or watch. If you are interested in learning about WWII history or the history of other countries I think this film is perfect. If you enjoyed films like Jojo Rabbit, I believe you will enjoy this film as well given it's from a child's perspective. However, I found this story a little bit darker in comparison. In conclusion, I found that the film offers a fresh perspective of this time in history and I highly recommend this film.


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