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Sarah's Key Movie Review (2011)

Sarah's Key Movie Review (2011)

I saw the movie, and I read a few of the reviews. Even though I know we watched the same movie, I seem to have taken away a different message than many others. To me, the movie I saw was not so much about France in 1942, the "Vel' d'Hiv" Roundup, or how it affected the life of one small girl. To me, the movie was about the nature of man - how little it changes, how much it affects the world, and how events we look on as "horrible," "tragic," and "history" are really just parts of our everyday lives.

The movie grabs you right from the start when one family, the Starzynskis, is taken from their home and packed into a small velodrome with 8,000 other French Jews before being transported to concentration camps. Viewers comment, "I didn't know this ever happened," or "How could people treat each other this way" when the truth is that this type of thing is still happening today in various parts of the world right under our noses. Oh, the faces have changed, along with the players, and the circumstances, but the cold, dark soul of humankind still carries on its atrocities behind a veil of self-righteousness, and complacent ignorance. This is what conflict looks like, and this is what it does to people. There are many more casualties than just the just the poor souls duped into putting on uniforms, and laying down their lives in that ironic twist called patriotism. They kill on the premise of preserving life, imprison others on the premise of creating freedom, and tear down the fiber of man on the premise of building up mankind. The worst part is that each and every one of us is just as guilty as any who ever gave an order or pulled a trigger because we allow this insanity to continue.

The movie has another side as well. It also shows how, even in times of adversity, men can have compassion. The movie's heroine, Sarah, likely would not be alive today if not for the compassion first of a camp guard, and second by a family who took pity upon her and her fellow escapee. And, then, there's the compassion of Sarah, herself, who, in trying to save her brother, ended up being his executioner, and found it impossible to live out her life in the knowledge of what she had done. It shows how even though mankind can collectively act in heartless fashion, there still remain among us those whose hearts have not turned to stone, and who still feel the power of the bonds of brotherhood. Despite all of the circumstances surrounding that "different" Summer of '42, Sarah does not place the blame on any other but herself, and, after attempts to erase her past fail, she takes her own life.

No, no matter what you may feel, this movie is not about the past. This movie only uses the past to illustrate the present. All of us who sit around content with our relative peace while innocent lives are taken in Afghanistan, while mothers abandon their children in Somalia, and while atrocity still affects the world like the festering sore of some deadly infection are just as guilty as if we'd done the deeds ourselves. Like Sarah, we will all find that we cannot hide peace in some closet, lock it away for days, and hope that we can return to find it just as we left it. And, also like Sarah, once we discover what we have done to our world, we will have to try to find a way to live with ourselves in the realization of what we have done.

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