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In late 1942, François, ten, discovers the delights of life, games and laughter. The German forces invade the Free Zone, including the Tarn district where François's father has brought his family as well as some Jewish refugees that he is hiding. For the little boy, the house is shrouded in mystery and full of secrets. In his mind, the behaviour of its inhabitants is linked to that of comic strip heroes. And the German soldiers are everywhere, even inside the house where a Wehrmacht general has been billeted. Despite all this, the end of 1942 is also the time that François disvovers love.
"In my novel "Le Petit garçon", I attempted to recreate the contrast between a childhood spent in the happiness of a close-knit family in South-West France and the period during which this childhood took place - in others words, the Occupation, and how a little boy gradually becomes aware, through the adult's mysterious behaviour, of intolerance, informers, double agents and the silent heroism of those anonymous people who weren't all collaborators. This bled of intimacy and innocence, the presence of Nazi uniforms and Jews hidden in cellars - against the background of epicurean South-West France - is reproduced to perfection in Pierre Granier-Deferre's film adaptation. Every tale, whether literary or cinematic, is driven by the notion of suspense. Will someone betray them ? Will they be able to save the fugitives ? What will happen to the little girl with whom the little boy seems to be in love ? The answers are given in the troubled atmosphere of the times where danger is the permanent companion of nonchalance."
(Philippe Labro - Novelist and filmmaker)