Seeing the Story – Sarah’s Key


Paquet-Brenner, G., Marsil, S., Joncour, S., Scott-Thomas, K., Arestrup, N., Mayance, M., Richter, M., … Anchor Bay Entertainment, Inc. (2011). Sarah’s key. Beverly Hills, CA: Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Reasons for Watching: after reading Tatiana de Rosney’s Sarah’s Key, I wanted to see the movie. Eventually, our requested copy arrived at our nearby HCPL branch.

Summary: On July 16, 1942, French officials arrested more than 10,000 Jewish men, women, and children living in Paris. They placed these Jews in the Vélodrome d’Hiver (Vél d’Hiv) an indoor bicycle racing cycle track in deplorable conditions before shipping them off to German concentration camps. As the French police arrest ten-year old Sarah and her family, Sarah locks her little brother in a closet, taking the key with her. When Sarah finds out the officials never intend for her go home, she relentlessly attempts to make her way back to her hidden brother.

In 2009, Julia, an American journalist residing in Paris with her French husband and daughter, takes on the assignment of writing on the Vél d’Hiv Roundup. As Julia and her family move into her father in-law’s apartment, she discovers that it’s the same place where Sarah and her family lived.

Book to Movie Adaptation: The movie was well done. The talented cast included Kristin Scott Thomas, Mélusine Mayance, Charlotte Poutrel, and Aidan Quinn.

While the book I read was in English, protagonist Julia Jarmond indicated when conversations were in French rather than English. It’s a safe assumption that the 1942 interactions were also spoken in French. Much of the dialogue was French with English subtitles.

Of course, the movie deviated from the book in some ways. Julia (Kristin Scott Thomas) lived in 2009 instead of 2002 (I’m guessing they wanted to incorporate iPhones). She already knew much about the Vel d’Hiv. In the book, the reader learned along with Julia. Also, Sarah (Mayance) and her family were much more demonstrative in the movie.

Review: I thought it was a good movie but I wished they’d left Julia in 2002. It’s definitely worth seeing. Unless you understand conversational French, you have to watch as well as listen.

Three and a Half Out of Five Pearls 

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