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Film review: 'Fanny's Journey'

"Fanny's Journey" is a testament to unchecked hate and the power of innocence.

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  • | 10:15 a.m. May 2, 2017
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"Fanny's Journey" is a film about Nazis robbing children of their innocence. But it's also a story about the brave people who put their lives on the line to help one another — even children who did so.

In 1943, Jewish children were sent from France to Italy for safe keeping. But when the Nazis arrive in Italy after the fall of Mussolini, they must once again flee. The Matron in charge, Madame Forman (Cecile de France), then arranges for them to escape into Switzerland. But en route, the children are separated from her and must make the frightful journey on their own.


Fanny (Leonie Souchard), who's only 13 years old, puts herself in charge and against overwhelming odds, realizes that she must remain steadfast. Tensions rise as they evade German soldiers and unscrupulous strangers who are eager to have them caught. On the other hand, the group of terrified children are befriended by kind individuals who risk everything by feeding and housing them. One can only imagine what went on in these fragile little minds about the nature of human beings.

The film is based on a true story written by Fanny Ben-Ami, and director Lola Doillon's raw sensitivity for the plight of these guiltless young vagabonds is compelling. And their performances are truly astounding. From very young to age 16, the group of nine children miraculously conveys how confused and scared they must have been. When Fanny's little sister asks, "Why can't we stop being Jews?" it's as thought provoking as it is heartbreaking. 


"Fanny's Journey" is beautiful to watch, set in the Alps of France, Germany and Switzerland. It emphasizes the dichotomy between the perilous and the majestic, as does the soaring score. 

In a world where immigration is front and center, "Fanny's Journey" stands as a testament to what can happen when hate goes unchecked. At the end of the film, Fanny risks her life to save a child who's about to be shot. It's been said that, "All it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing." Perhaps, we can learn from children how to save ourselves.