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A Bag of Marbles

Poignant movie about a family of French Jews during WWII, where two young brothers have to make a perilous journey away from their home in Paris on their own, through Nazi-occupied territory to the south of France in hopes of meeting up with the rest of their family, what happens along the way and beyond, as the war grinds on and eventually nears its end. Based on a true story, very well made and very touching.
Highly recommended.

Posted by
3460 posts

Thank you David. Did you watch it on Amazon Prime? Was it at the Seattle Jewish Film Festival last year? Looking forward to watching it.

Posted by
5752 posts

We got it on DVD through Netflix. A friend mentioned he had got a copy from the local library. Should be widely available.

I'll add that we watched it on the night after the fire in Notre Dame, so I was already emotionally softened-up and having bittersweet memories of visits to France. Even if you're not quite as vulnerable to its appeal as I was, it's still a very well crafted piece of cinema, beautifully shot, with solid performances and a story worth seeing. The preview available via the link upthread gives you a good sense of the film; if that looks good to you, I'm confident you'll like it.

Posted by
3460 posts

Thank you. I can understand the emotional attachment this must of had after the Notre Dame fire. We are currently traveling but will check out our local library upon our return. Jewish history is always included in our travels.

Posted by
10118 posts

Thanks David. On out way to France next week and that always makes me search for WWII movies and novels for the flight over.

Posted by
5149 posts

Our library has the book, but not the movie. They do have a downloadable movie, but I don't think it would stream properly on our system. I put in a request for the book.

Posted by
3460 posts

I did see that the book is available! That is another great option.

Posted by
465 posts

Is it in English or French? Netflix doesn't specify.

Posted by
5752 posts

It's a French film, in the French language, with English subtitles. It was fine.

With the DVD I received (from the Netflix DVD service), there were no options to choose a different language audio track or change the subtitles to anything other than English (at least none that I was able to find). I would expect the version you get to have French audio and English subtitles with no other options.

Personally, I prefer to watch non-English films with the original audio in their original language, with English subtitles (and dislike "dubbed" movies).

Posted by
6511 posts

I put in a request for the book.

Be sure when you get the book from your library that it's the original book. There is also a graphic novel version - that's what my library had and I'm not into the comic book style so I just took it back. Will try to get the movie.

Posted by
4717 posts

We got it on DVD through Netflix. A friend mentioned he had got a copy from the local library. Should be widely available.

They still offer DVD through Netflix in the US? They stopped doing that in the UK years ago, it's now streaming (or downloading only). It was a shame as the kids liked to rent the computer games before deciding whether to buy them outright.

Posted by
5752 posts

They still offer DVD through Netflix in the US?

Yes. They tried to kill it off a few years ago and go to all-streaming, but I guess enough of their luddite customers were revolting. Netflix relented. Disks live on, at least for now.

Posted by
5149 posts

Nancy, our library had two versions of the book, one in the young adults section. I chose the other one. It looks like the real thing.

Posted by
6511 posts

Jane, our library only had the graphic novel (bummer) but I checked again and the do have the DVD so I put that on hold.

Posted by
5149 posts

I finished the book yesterday. Lovely. I didn't realize that it's actually a memoir. The author, Joseph Joffo, is the younger boy in the story.

The edition I found has an Afterword by the author that I highly recommend. He answers a lot of questions he has been asked over the years, mostly by schoolchildren. He also says he was disappointed in some aspects of the movie, especially the negative depictions both of the priest who helped the boys on the train the first day of their journey, and of his father. By the time he (the author) was allowed to see the rushes of the film, there was no chance to make changes.

He says the priest took it upon himself to protect the boys, without having been asked, much less begged. He also says his father was not the man on the edge of a nervous breakdown depicted in the film, trying to decide what to do with his children, but was always strong and faced events unflinchingly.

I do recommend the book, and have passed it on to my husband. Thanks for this thread, David.

Posted by
3460 posts

@Jane, thanks for your review of the book. Appreciated the comparison to the movie.

Posted by
5149 posts

Janis, I thought it important to let people know that at least some of the more important characters were not as depicted in the movie. We are all prone to remember what we have seen, even in a film.

One of the things that fascinated me about the book was how many people were helpful to the boys. Even some of the staff at the hotel where the boys were being held, late in the story, while the SS was investigating their identity.

Posted by
3460 posts

Jane, thanks for sharing the additional information. Like many stories during that time, there were many kind people who protected the Jews. I just ordered the book.

David, thanks again for starting this thread!