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‘A Bag Of Marbles’ Is An Emotionally Powerful World War II Tale

The future is beginning to look increasingly bleak for American audiences waiting and hoping for new television shows and movies.  As of Monday, the two separate strikes being held by the Writers Guild of America and members of the Screen Actors Guild seem to have no end in sight.  As the strikes stretch on, audiences are obviously going to need to look somewhere for an alternative to what will and will not be presented on screens small and large.  This past March, independent film distributor Omnibus Entertainment presented a viable viewing option in the form of the French import, A Bag of Marbles.  Originally having made its theatrical debut in 2017 in its home nation of France (and March 23, 2018 in the U.S.), this year marks the first time the movie has released a domestic release on any physical platform for home viewing.  The movie’s story forms its foundation and will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s cast, especially its two young leads, builds on the interest established by the story.  It will be examined a little later.  The cinematography exhibited here rounds out the movie’s most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this French import and all things considered they make A Bag of Marbles a powerful new story of survival from the horrors of World War II.

A Bag of Marbles is a unique offering in the bigger field of period pieces that center on the history of World War II.  It is a presentation that is worth watching at least once.  That is due in large part to its central story.  Adapted from the autobiography of survivor Joseph Joffo, a French Jew, the story follows his and his brother Maurice’s epic flight from the Nazis in the final months of the war.  Watching the bond between the brothers grow so much as they work to survive proves so deeply moving.  It will lead any viewer to tears, especially as the brothers are forced to have to even hide their own religious faith due to the hatred of so many people.  Speaking of which, this aspect of the story proves especially surprising.  Viewers learn through Joseph’s story that even many of the boys’ own fellow French citizens show their true colors as they express resentment toward and dislike of the Jewish community.  If in fact this really was the case then it is an eye-opener that needs to be further addressed by historians and educators alike considering it is so rarely addressed at least here in the United States.  Watching Joseph and Maurice having to constantly leave places every time they thought they were safe makes for plenty of tension, which is sure to keep viewers engaged.  It also makes them even more a pair of sympathetic characters for whom audiences will root.  The boys do survive the tyranny of the Nazi occupation in the end, though the story’s finale is not all happy.  As a matter of fact the story’s end is rather bittersweet.  To that end, that finale and everything else that takes place over the course of the story’s nearly two-hour run time makes the story extremely emotional and impacting.  The thing is that because the story overall is that powerful, it is a story that also requires audiences to be in a very specific mindset in order to really fully appreciate what is presented.  It is not a story that a person can just sit down and watch anytime in other words.

Even taking this into account, the story still builds a strong foundation for the movie because it so deeply immerse viewers into the unique tale.  Building on that foundation is the work of the movie’s two young stars, Dorian Le Clech and Batyste Fleurial, who play Joseph and Maurice respectively.  The loving bond that the brothers share even from the story’s opening minutes makes the brothers and their story endearing in their own rights.  Watching the pain and the sense of determination that the pair exhibit as they face trial after trial is fully believable thanks to the young actors’ work.  There are so many moments at which the boys could easily have chewed the scenery so to speak, but instead they gave their all. The result is that they make Joseph and Maurice completely sympathetic characters. Their performances are certain to make for plenty of emotion among viewers.

As much as the performances by Le Clech and Fleurial do to make A Bag of Marbles engaging, their work is still just one more part of what makes the movie worth watching.  The movie’s cinematography rounds out its most important elements.  From the subtlety of the curved mountain roads which the brothers travel by foot (and sometimes by truck thanks to some helpful drivers) to the backdrop of the mountains as the boys escape one of so many situations (which conjures thoughts of The Sound of Music to a point) to even the militaristic setting of the school where the boys stay for a short time, the ability of those behind the cameras to use those settings to deep the movie’s impact is to be applauded in its own right, too.  They capture angles and lighting expertly that really help set each scene’s mood so well.  That artistic presentation works alongside the work of the movie’s two young leads and with the story itself to make the movie in whole an in-depth presentation that will appeal widely among history buffs and more specifically WWII history buffs alike.  It will also appeal in its own right to drama fans, all things considered.  Keeping all of this in mind, A Bag of Marbles proves to be a presentation that is, as noted, a viable viewing option for audiences looking for an alternative to the reruns and reality TV that are on their way here stateside as the writers and actors’ strikes continue.

Omnibus Entertainment’s recently released French import, A Bag of Marbles, is a powerful work that will appeal widely among so many audiences.  That is due in no small part to its story, which centers on two brothers who travel across France in order to escape the Nazi’s spread across the continent.  The story is one of very few tales of the children impacted overseas by the war, making it well worth watching.  This is even with the story being based on actual events.  The work of the movie’s two young lead actors plays its own part in the movie’s presentation.  That is because the boys’ performances make it so easy to suspend one’s disbelief.  The cinematography that went into creating World War II-era France makes for even more engagement thanks to the work of those behind the cameras.  The lighting and angles used from scene to scene does its own part to make the story emotional, too.  When that work is considered along with the boys’ acting and with the story itself, the whole makes A Bag of Marbles a deeply moving and standout addition to the sea of stories from WWII that is well worth watching at least once.  Audiences who do watch it should just bring a box of tissues for the experience.

A Bag of Marbles is available now through Omnibus Entertainment.