Boulder International Film Festival: Sarah’s Key

By themedia | February 22, 2011

Movie: Sarah’s Key
Production: Hugo Productions
Actors: Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance
Link: Click here

It’s about time I attend a screening at a film festival! I was long overdue. And I feel even more encouraged to attend more in the future as I was inspired by the creative, compelling storytelling featured in the film, Sarah’s Key.

Many of you may be familiar with Sarah’s Key as it is a popular piece of literary fiction. I can tell you that I had not read the book before viewing the film. But, after viewing the film, I’ve added this piece of work to my reading list.

The movie in its entirety was engaging. The film’s story drifts between the present and 1942 in Paris, France. Automatically, one assumes that this may be a story about the Holocaust. However, it is about the forgotten Vel d’Hiv roundup when the French police, not the Nazi’s, went house to house in Paris to arrest Jews then transport them to transit centers.

The film opens up with Sarah and her brother playing around until the door knocks. Sarah immediately recognizes that they are in danger so she hurries her brother in to a cupboard in the wall so the police do not take him away. She makes him promise that he will not leave the cupboard until she returns and unlocks the door.

We follow Sarah, her mother and father to the Vel d’Hiv where they await their further instruction. Her parents have heard the rumors that they will separated from their child and taken to Auschwitz. This is exactly what happens. But, Sarah never gives up on the idea of returning to Paris to unlock her brother from the cupboard.

American journalist, Julia Jarmond asks to write a news article on the 60th anniversary of Vel d’Hiv.  As time goes on, she discovers she has more in common with this 10 year old girl than what she thought. The story becomes much more personal as she realizes she has moved in to the apartment of this 10 year old girl who experienced the Vel d’Hiv firsthand.

We journey with Julia to understand what exactly happened to Sarah and her family. We follow and experience Sarah’s tragedies along the way to returning to Paris. Throughout the movie, Julia is asked why she’s so determined to get involved in other people’s business. But as we watch Sarah’s life unravel, we also notice that Julia is starting to question her own choices in life.

What you’re left with in the end is a sense of wonder and confusion as to why an event so horrific as the Vel d’Hiv has been forgotten by many. This story will stay with you longer after you view it.

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