Au Revoir les Enfants

Brief Intro

🌟 Au Revoir les Enfants is a poignant and heart-wrenching film directed by Louis Malle. Released in 1987, this semi-autobiographical movie is set during World War II in a French boarding school. The story revolves around the friendship between two boys, Julien and Jean, and the tragic consequences of secrets during a time of war.

Literary Devices Used in Au Revoir les Enfants


Movie SceneDevice Example
Julien hiding in the confessionalThe confessional symbolizes Julien’s inner conflict and his secrets.
The farewell scene at the train stationThe train symbolizes the journey and separation, both literal and metaphorical.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Julien befriending Jean without knowing his true identityDramatic irony where the audience knows Jean’s secret before Julien does.
The priest’s sermon on love and charitySituational irony, as the priest later betrays the hidden Jewish boys.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The early air raid drillForeshadows the imminent danger and the eventual raid on the school.
Julien’s curiosity about Jean’s secrecyHints at the revelation of Jean’s true identity and the impending danger.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The cold, winter settingMetaphor for the harshness and cruelty of the time period.
The hidden crucifix in Jean’s roomRepresents Jean’s hidden faith and identity.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The books Jean readsAlludes to the cultural richness and intellectual resistance against the oppressive regime.
References to biblical textsAllusions to themes of sacrifice and persecution.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Recurring piano musicThe motif of music as a solace and a connection between characters.
Repeated scenes of the dining hallHighlights the communal life and underlying tensions.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Scenes of children playing vs. soldiers marchingJuxtaposition of innocence and war.
Julien’s comfort vs. Jean’s anxietyHighlights the stark differences in their lives.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Julien’s memories of his motherProvides context for his loneliness and longing.
Jean’s recollections of his past lifeAdds depth to his character and his fears.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Julien’s exaggerated descriptions of his adventuresReflects his youthful imagination and escapism.
The intense fear of the GestapoHeightens the sense of danger and suspense.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Descriptions of the cold, bleak school environmentCreates a vivid picture of the harsh conditions.
The warmth of the hidden chapelContrasts with the coldness of the outside world, symbolizing refuge and hope.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Julien Quentin

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismJulien’s journey from innocence to awareness symbolizes the loss of childhood innocence during war.
IronyHis initial ignorance of Jean’s true identity contrasts with his eventual protective feelings.

Jean Bonnet

Literary DeviceExplanation
MetaphorJean’s hidden Jewish identity serves as a metaphor for the hidden suffering of many during the Holocaust.
AllusionHis reading habits and intellectual demeanor allude to the rich cultural heritage he is forced to hide.

Père Jean

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingHis sermons and actions foreshadow his ultimate act of courage and sacrifice.
JuxtapositionHis caring nature contrasts with the harshness of the external world, highlighting his moral integrity.

Character Dynamics

Julien and Jean’s relationship evolves from suspicion to deep friendship, illustrating the power of human connection in dire times. Père Jean’s protective stance towards the boys underlines the theme of moral courage, contrasting sharply with the betrayal by other authority figures.

Thematic Analysis

Friendship and Loyalty

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyJulien’s initial suspicion of Jean turning into loyalty emphasizes the deep bond they form.
SymbolismThe shared adventures and secrets symbolize the trust and loyalty between friends.

Innocence and War

Literary DeviceExplanation
JuxtapositionThe innocence of childhood games against the backdrop of war highlights the impact of conflict on the young.
ImageryVivid descriptions of the school life under threat emphasize the intrusion of war into daily life.

Sacrifice and Morality

Literary DeviceExplanation
MetaphorPère Jean’s actions metaphorically represent the sacrifices made by many unsung heroes during the war.
ForeshadowingEarly scenes hinting at Père Jean’s ultimate sacrifice underscore the theme of moral courage.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismUse of colorThe stark, cold color palette emphasizes the harsh realities of the time.
IronySound designThe use of cheerful music during tense moments heightens the ironic contrast.
Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
ImageryCinematographyThe bleak, wintry landscapes create a strong visual contrast with moments of warmth and safety.
MotifRecurring musicThe piano music motif ties together key emotional moments, reinforcing the narrative.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

Farewell Scene

  • YouTube Link: Farewell Scene
  • Scene Breakdown: This scene is a powerful culmination of the themes of friendship and loss. The use of close-ups emphasizes the emotional intensity, while the background music underscores the tragedy of the separation.

Classroom Raid

  • YouTube Link: Classroom Raid
  • Scene Breakdown: This scene uses dramatic irony and intense sound design to heighten the tension. The juxtaposition of the children’s innocence with the brutality of the raid is starkly portrayed.

Chapel Revelation

  • YouTube Link: Chapel Revelation
  • Scene Breakdown: The revelation of Jean’s identity in the chapel is symbolic and deeply moving. The quiet, sacred space contrasts with the outside world’s chaos, highlighting the theme of hidden truths.


Interactive Quiz

Test your knowledge!

  1. Which literary device is used when Julien befriends Jean without knowing his true identity?
  2. What does the train symbolize in the farewell scene?
    • A) Freedom
    • B) Journey and separation
    • C) Danger
  3. How does the film use color to enhance its themes?
    • A) Through vibrant, warm tones
    • B) With stark, cold palettes
    • C) By using black and white film
  4. What does the hidden crucifix in Jean’s room represent?
    • A) His love for art
    • B) His hidden faith and identity
    • C) A family heirloom


  1. B) Irony
  2. B) Journey and separation
  3. B) With stark, cold palettes
  4. B) His hidden faith and identity