Plenty of lessons to be learned here. Vitally important one. Ones which are not only applicable to those who lived through the horror of World War II. Universal ones. Ones which have been applicable throughout human history. They involve things like love being greater than hate, friendship being of paramount importance in life, courage needed to face evil, and forgiveness being a healing act.
This Oscar nominated short documentary film is directed by Anthony Giacchino and acknowledges that the living memory of World War II will soon be deceased. It is the last chance for some healing to take place. In the case of Colette Marin-Catherine it has been a long time coming. As a young child she and her family were part of the small French Resistance which fought against the Nazis during WWII. I say small in a factual kind of way and without judging. Only 1% of the French population actively engaged in resisting the Nazi occupation. Colette is one of the last living members of that French Resistance.
That would seem to be enough of a story but there is more. Since 1945, she has not travelled to Germany. Reason being that her older brother Jean-Pierre at the age of 17 was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to a Nazi concentration camp. This occurred in 1943 and he was never seen again. Colette’s heart was shattered. The anger and hurt she felt has lasted until now, when she is 90-years-old. They say you never are too old to….well, you all know the rest of that saying.
Her broken heart and strong mind are changed by a young 19-year-old history student, Lucie. Lucie, who is conducting research and writing a paper on Colette’s brother, convinces her to come along on a trip to Germany. Or more specifically to the forced labour camp Jean-Pierre was in near Nordhausen, Germany. This ends up being a journey which much is discovered for both women. For Colette she finds herself able to let go of the hurt and anger she has kept inside for seven decades and maybe allow some healing in.
Here is another lesson which World War II can teach people today. One which shows that evil can be fought on many levels. How we cannot allow it to change us. How we can fight against it on many levels. No matter when and at what age. This film is a touching reminder of that.