Kiegan Montgomery did her presentation over how the narrative has changed concerning the Velodrome D’hiver, based off of her original senior seminar project, cleverly named “French Memory in the Box Office”. Kiegan specifically looked at French cimena as a representation as of society and societal memory. She feels that French films reveal notable shifts in their society. Specifically she looked at Monsieur Klein, La Rafle, and Elle s’appelait Sarah. Her background information on the Vel D’Hiv was remarkably well-researched to the extent that she appeared an obvious expert on her topic. She managed to give an accurate portrayal of French history and life while speeding through detailed explanations. She focused her research on the Velodrome d’Hiver, where families were deported and taken to death camps. Kiegan brought a deeply emotional tone to her presentation with an intimate discussion of the lives and especially deaths of the people July 16-19, 1942. We learn of the terrible care people received, being treated as little more than “animals”.
Now Kiegan begins to explain the film aspects of her presentation. In Monsieur Klein, Joseph Losey began to question the actions of the French people. It told the story of a man who got confused with a Jewish person and ended up being deported to Auschwitz. His goal was this film was to “identify the indifference of the French people” during this time. For the films involved, Kiegan focuses specifically on the arrest scenes and the portrayal of the French police. The particular one in this film is very subtle. The streets are empty and quiet as though the French people are ignoring the wrongs being done just outside their front doors. As expected, this film was not well-received by the public who were disturbed by the ideas portrayed in the film.
La Rafle takes a different approach and focuses more on the French people themselves. The goal of the film was to arouse sympathy in the hearts of the French people, using many violent and emotional scenes. The violence of the arrests in this film is much more prevalent in this film, where the focus is more on the brutality and the confusion of these scenes. Throughout the film, you get the idea of the German ideas being behind the whole situation when it truth the French were very much responsible for everything that happened. In the final film, Elle S’appelait Sarah, the goal was to create a film that was both popular and respectable. You go back and forth between the events of two characters before their histories meet up and you understand why the events in this film are important to society. This was the first time where Kiegan saw the police strike the Jews in such a brutal manner, without doubt or hesitation.
Throughout her presentation, Kiegan played on the idea of selective memory. Depending on the focus of the films, we are able to see how the French people judged the events that occurred with the Jews and what they chose to remember about what happened.