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Olivier & Europa

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Group 5 Com115.5 July 16, 2010

Yet again, European cinema intends to impress us with two grand works of pure artistic brilliance and creative style. Agnieszka Holland presents us "Olivier, Olivier" and "Europa, Europa" - two films, which are based on true stories, proving to be emotionally affective and involving (Tibayan). Both films follow the stories of two young boys who find themselves having to lie and keep their real identities hidden in order to save their own lives, looking for better ones. (Coscolluela).

Olivier, Olivier deals with a family's undertakings as they lose Olivier, the youngest and most loved in the family, and how they recover and are transformed as the lost son returns to their home after several years. Just like any other artistic film, several symbolisms fill up the movie adding spice to its immersed story (Tibayan). One of these is the ball with a clown figure rolling on the floor. Its falling to the floor and rolling about signifies the "death", so to speak, of Olivier's childhood, and this image foreshadowed key elements in the film's plot (Peña). The image of the clown on the ball shows trickery and deception. It allured to how the newly returned Olivier was just playing some sort of practical joke on the family (Tibayan). This also somehow signified the beginnings of Olivier's entrance into the family and how his deception kept the family (especially the father and sister) in circles regarding the truth of the young Olivier's disappearance (Coscolluela).

Holland was able to subtly lead to the conclusion that Marcel is the reason for Olivier's disappearance. At the beginning, when people were gathered together in the Duval's home, Marcel, without insistent interrogation from anyone detailed his last encounter with Olivier. At that point it may not have been suspected that Marcel had anything to do with Olivier's death (Peña). He was the last person to see Olivier before he was never seen or heard from again. That was one of the clues that lead to him being pointed by the audience as a suspect. Also, in the scene where the men in the neighborhood were gathered in the Duval's living room, the camera zoomed in to a guilty look on Marcel's face (Lacson). Another sign was when Marcel and the teenaged Olivier met in the fields. One could have predicted Marcel's reaction to be that of delight. But there seemed to be something odd with the look of disbelief on his face when he saw the teenaged Olivier. It seemed as though he was certain that the person in front of him is not Olivier. And one of the final signs of Marcel's treachery was when they had some sort of welcoming dinner for Olivier. While they were giving gifts and the family started asking Olivier about what had happened to him, Marcel was quite uneasy throughout the situation. It would be natural for someone in his position to wish to be excused, but the expression in his eyes says clearly that he knows something that no other character in the room knows. This made it clearer that he may have had something to do with the boy's disappearance (Alcantara).

In the end, it was found out that Olivier's disappearance was all Marcel's doing. The older "Olivier" was the one to discover Marcel's homosexual and pedophilic tendencies, which were symbolized by the association of Marcel with a trumpet. It serves as a phallic symbol to those tendencies. After "Olivier" went to the investigator, they got Marcel to admit to having molested the young Olivier and buried him after he had fallen to his death (Coscolluela).

Olivier, Olivier ends with the family unable to tell the mother that the teenage Olivier is in fact an imposter. They chose to leave the mother happy instead of having her experience yet another loss (Lacson). The empty swing symbolized the truth of young Olivier's death. Though the fake Olivier was there to fill his space and role in the family, the fact that he died was still present. It symbolized the 'end' of the lies but the beginning of living that same lie (Peña).

"Europa, Europa" also had a number symbolisms in the film. At the start of the movie, Solly is drowning. The symbolic drowning depicted what was happening in Solly's life. He was drowning in the lie he had to live with and though there was a way for him to be saved (the image of a person jumping in attempting to save him) he opted to take the easier route and swim further down to his 'sea of lies' (Peña). This reveals the overall theme of the film. It symbolizes how Solly would drown in his own sea of lies regarding his own identity. In order to survive, he would pretend to be Russian and then German afterwards. It saves him a couple of times but it would also push him further against the wall. The scene of Solly's circumcision is very important because it was to establish the identity of our protagonist. He was Jewish, and just like the permanent cut of his skin, that is something that he can no longer change (Tibayan). Solly's



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