The Round up
The German occupation of France during
World War II lasted some four and a half years, and for the citizens
living under Nazi rule was a time of unparalleled privation and
indignity. Not only were they obliged to witness their armed forces and
its leadership crumbling in the wake of the inexorable Wehrmacht
advance, they were also forced to pay the staggering costs of
maintaining the occupying German army, to send thousands of their men to
fight for Germany on the Eastern Front and to provide manpower for
Hitler’s factories and armaments plants, all while columns of victorious
German units goose-stepped their way down the Champs-Elysees and swanned
about the countryside with all the swagger and entitlement of landed
gentry surveying some vast new estate.
Another of the more sinister aspects of the
occupation was the manner in which Nazi authorities soon demanded that
France hand over the bulk of her 350,000-strong Jewish population for
‘resettlement’ in the East. During the most famous raid, that of 16 and
17 July 1942, more than 13,000 Jews residing in Paris were arrested and
interred in the Winter Velodrome. Held there for five days, they were
then transferred to Drancy internment camp and finally to Auschwitz,
where the overwhelming majority would perish.
Starring Melanie Laurent (Inglourious
Basterds) and the ubiquitous Jean Reno, The Round Up focuses
on the days leading up to the raid, which was executed with the full
complicity and active assistance of French civil and police
organisations. A faithful and unflinching exposition of the fruits of
French collaboration, the film is a poignant and stirring evocation of
all that’s best and worst about human nature. The depictions of Nazi
leaders (particularly Udo Schenk’s Hitler) border on caricature, an
understandable impulse but one that reduces the levity of several
crucial scenes, however the rest of the performances are universally
excellent. Laurent in particular shines as the conscience-stricken
nurse Annette Monod, who after the war would be named a Righteous Among
the Nations for her efforts during and after the round up.
A solid and compelling effort from
writer-director Rose Bosch, The Round Up is one of the more
praiseworthy WWII films of recent years, and one whose gutsy
performances and weighty subject matter combine to produce an intensely
moving historical drama.
Nothing particularly special, just a
theatrical trailer and smattering of Madman propaganda.