Recommended: “The Innocents,”
An Extraordinary Film Achievement

The Innocents

During the winter of 1945, a young French intern working with a branch of the Red Cross is on a mission to care for and repatriate French survivors of the German concentration camps in Poland. A Polish nun arrives at the Red Cross hospital and begs for help. At the convent, the doctor discovers several nuns in the advanced state of pregnancy after having been raped by soldiers in the invading Russian military.

Several factors are at work here, making this film an extraordinary achievement: the brilliant direction of Anne Fontaine, the cinematography of Caroline Champetier that captures the bleak post-war landscape of Poland, and the brilliant performances of the acting ensemble. As many reviewers have observed, there is not a single false note in the film. But this is not a film about World War II, nor is it about rape. There are scenes of neither, which makes the consequences of unseen events an even more powerful force in the lives of these women of faith and compassion. It is difficult to imagine a bleaker setting or sadder circumstances, yet there is not a hint of the cynicism pervasive in so many contemporary American movies.

Based on real events in the life of French doctor Madeleine Jeanne Marie Pauliac, a member of the French Resistance who worked in Poland after World War II, “The Innocents” is one of the finest films this reviewer has ever seen—in the history of cinema. For anyone who believes in the art of movie making and the redemptive power of love, this is as good as filmmaking gets.

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