Valiant Hearts
France 2021
Directed by Mona Achache
French with English subtitles
87 minutes

We have shown films featuring the rescue of children during the Holocaust in past years.  What makes this film different is that it is based on the true story of the rescue of six Jewish children in August of 1942 who take refuge in a most unlikely place.  They are hidden for a while where no one will ever think to look for them - amidst the Louvre Museum artworks hidden in the beautiful and historic Château de Chambord. The woman who carries it out and the heroine of the film was inspired by Rose Valand, a conservator at Paris’s Jeu de Paume Museum and a member of the resistance who, for the full duration of the war, spied and documented artwork thefts carried out by Nazi officers. On this occasion, she transported a group of children from Paris to the Chateau in the Loire valley countryside.  The children range from tots to teens, so their understanding of their danger and their ability to deal with the need to keep silent and hidden in the Chateau is very different.  This creates suspense as well as humour, as we fear for their safety while the children play pranks on each other.  When they leave hiding in the attic of the Chateau and start the journey through the forests to a safe area, the differences in their physical and their emotional development once again create suspense.  They are guided through the woods by a young resistance scout, but the hazards of the environment prove as difficult a danger as the German troops patrolling the forest.  Almost at the end of their trek, they are saved from Nazi soldiers by the heroic diversionary action of their rescuer. On their journey, the children learn the necessity of both independence and mutual need, and discover solidarity and friendship in the midst of perilous and chaotic circumstances.