As part of the dethesification, I’ve booked tickets for ten movies from the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2012 – my annual virtual trip to Europe. My selection for this year starts with La Guerre des boutons (War of the Buttons). The movie is based on a novel by Louis Pergaud and it has actually been translated into several movies already. It’s good that I wasn’t aware of the other versions nor the story before I watched this movie, so I could assess it on its face value.
The story is about two rivaling towns, Longeverne and Velrans – the boys and girls of the town have always been locked in mock wars for generations. The current leader of the Longeverne gang is Lebrac (played wonderfully by the charismatic Vincent Bres), a smart but strong-willed boy who is forced to become the man of the family after his father’s death. The boys from Velrans are lead by Aztec (Theo Bertrand) who becomes very vengeful after a member of his gang is detained by the Longeverne gang and has all of his shirt buttons cut off. There are other colourful characters in the movie as well, including the funny and innocent Ligibus (Tristan Vichard) and the Lebrac’s object of affection, Lanterne (Salomé Lemire). A bumbling village priest and a teacher who wishes to inspire Lebrac are also included. The result is a delightful mix of characters.
The main thread of the movie is the subtle message of the ugliness of war – although most of the movie is about the mock fights between both gangs, we get the feeling that when that playfulness is taken away and revenge takes over, the aftermath can be quite ugly. There’s no real winner when hatred takes a hold of you. There’s also a message of the importance of education, as a key to escape poverty and mediocre life. Although it may sound very preachy, all of the messages are dispersed so well within the movie and mixed with the old-world charm of 1950’s settings. It’s like watching a snippet of my favourite movie Cinema Paradiso mixed with a different story to create a wonderful heartwarming experience.
A great start for the 2012 season, I’d say! 🙂