Uncle Bardie’s Movie Spotlight: Au Revoir Les Enfants

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day tomorrow, this week’s Spotlight Movie is Louis Malle’s autobiographical film, “Au Revoir Les Enfants” (Goodbye Children) (1987):

It was January, 1944 when the German soldiers came to Julien Quentin’s Catholic boarding school. A short time later, the soldiers took away three boys, Bonnet, Negus and Dupre. They were Jewish and they died at Auschwitz. Father Jean died in the camp at Mauthasen. He was the principal of the school who had given the boys sanctuary. Then Malle ends with the film by adding, “More than 40 years have passed, but I’ll remember every second of that January morning until the day I die.”

As the boys and the priest are led away, we do not need to see the trains. We’ve seen the boxcars loaded with people as if they were cattle before. We’ve seen the camps with the prisoners starving, their eyes looking at us with hopelessness. We’ve seen the gas chambers. We’ve seen them in photographs and we’ve seen them in films.

We’ve seen the interviews with the survivors. The numbers still on their arms to be taken with them to their graves. They are witnesses to that time when human beings were condemned by other human beings simply because they were Jews.

Six million men, women and children. Six million.

Not only was this a tragedy for Jews. It was a tragedy for Christians as well. Since Mary and Joseph were Jewish, they too would have died in those gas chambers had they lived during that time in Germany or Poland or France. And Jesus would never have been born. That is something that some Christians forget.

Soon all the survivors of that horrible horrible time will be gone. For them, let us remember and not forget the evil. Let us not forget that time when there was no mercy, no compassion, no justice for our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us be reminded that there was a time the world did nothing to stop the trains, to close the camps, to shut down the gas chambers.

Yet let us also remember there were a few, all too few, but a few who resisted the evil that was the Holocaust, lit a candle to light the darkness, and stepped forward to give their lives that others might live. Jesus said it best, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” For these few saw the Jewish people as their friends.

See “Au Revoir Les Enfants” and remember the English statesman Edmund Burke’s words: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

micropoem for the day: cleaning

Over the Christmas holidays, I had some time off. So, I did some house cleaning. Cleaned out some of the old drawers in the room that I use for an office. I had kept papers from years back. I said, “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie.” It felt good to get that stuff out of the house. I zapped it in the paper shredder. Then out into the garbage. I got to tell you that’s it’s good to make trash like that.

cleaning desk drawers
notes, offers, bills paid
the et ceteras of life

Near 500 words: Soup-o-logy

When it comes to creating a story, I don’t start with an idea. Like the story will be about the difficulty of staying married. Or death is inevitable. A lot of the story-creation books suggest that is a good way into the story. I don’t start with a plot either.

My stories always begin with a character acting in a situation. It’s as if the character is a stranger I meet on the street. I do not work from a profile. Too many things to remember. I learn a character as the story moves along. A story that might begin with a man and a woman at dinner.

“The soup was good,” Dora says.

Kat’s response might be, “You think?” Maybe he didn’t think the soup was that good. Maybe he’s just super critical. Then Dora might decide no more dates with this guy. In addition to being critical, I just discovered that he is forthright. And Dora doesn’t care for critical, forthright men.

Or Kat might respond, “I thought so too.” Even if he didn’t like the soup, he isn’t going to tell Dora. So he’s either courteous or he might be a guy who hides things from others.

“I never eat a meal without soup. Even my breakfasts have soup.”

“Breakfasts have soups?” Kat asks.

“They are called cereal.”

“What do you see in soups?”

“I like their texture.”

Kat never thought of soups that way.

“Next time,” Kat says, “I’m taking you out for a steak.”

“Do they have soup?”

The two date a few times. Each time they go out, it’s soup. For the both of them. He begins to love soup as much as Dora does. He never knew he loved soup until Dora. She made a connoisseur of him. They even start planning their vacations around soup-tastings. For the first time in his life, he feels he belongs to a special group. The food subculture of soup-a-holics.

The next time he sees his friend, Joe, he says, “I’m getting married.”

Joe asks, “I don’t believe it. What did it for you?”

“She likes soup. And I like that she likes soup. I even like soup now.”

“There’s no reason to get married over soup.”

“Can’t think of a better one.”

“But soups?”

“Every time we get together we end up talking soup. We have something we’re passionate about in common.”

“What else do you have in common?”

“Don’t need anything else. It’s like me and my brother.”

Joe is confused. “You’re comparing her to your brother?”

“Just this. My brother and I have only one thing in common. Other than we’re family. We both love the Chicago Cubs. We can go a whole week talking Cubs and only scratch the surface.”

When Kat asks Dora to marry him, she asks him, “Why do you want to marry me?”

“I’ll always remember the first time you ordered minestrone. I’d never met anyone who put so much effort into eating soup. You first tasted the broth. Then you took just a small bite of the pasta. It was like you were doing a wine tasting. There was such ecstasy on your face. I knew right then I wanted to spend my life with you.”

“Well,” Dora said, “we may not have Paris. But we’ll always have minestrone.”

You see what I mean. How did I know who Dora and Kat were? I didn’t until they started talking. Until they started acting. Then it was only a matter of getting to the minestrone. It’s not a full blown plot but it’s a good beginning.

micropoem for the day: calendars

We live by the calendar. We die by the calendar. Weekends are our days for free-for-all stuff. Sundays are the days we take time for God and go to church, figuring the Big Guy deserves one day a week. Or at least, an hour. February 14th gets our love. March 17th is a big green party day. Easter means Spring Break. Mom and Dad get their own special day. And hey, June’s the big month for weddings. Monday mornings we’re up and off for work. As I say, we live by the calendar and we die by the calendar. I personally think any day is a good day for Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrrrh.

the wall calendar
declares today This
That or the Other Day.

micropoem for the day: dogs

Even though cats have taken over my house, I do like dogs. Or dawgs as we refer to around my house. In fact, if I ever have a dawg, I am bound and determined to name the guy Dawg. When I was a kid, we had a dog. He was half pekingese and half collie. At least that was what I was told. Instead of having his nose punched up against his face the way many Pekingese have, his nose was straight out and forward for all the world to see. And what a guy. He just had an absolutely wonderful personality. His name was Pudgy.

woman walking dog
the sideway curves, then straightens
dog walking woman