The Long, Long Holiday

Last watched September 2016

Summary:

Collette and Ernest are visiting their grandparents on their farm outside Granville near Normandy when World War 2 breaks out. Their mother goes to Switzerland and their father joins the French army, then the French resistance, leaving them with their grandparents. The series spans the years it takes for the war (and holiday, hence the name) to come to an end.

Opinion:

Like Watership Down this little animated miniseries may look unassuming, but veers heavily into the darker aspects of war and occupation. I watched it to practice my French comprehension but very soon was completely enthralled with the characters, the plots and the art direction. It is insightful, engaging and really true-to-life. It doesn’t paint any party (apart from one character) as inherently bad so in that way it is pretty nuanced. I think it would be good for older kids through to adults, there is a lot of death and difficult topics so younger kids might be too affected by it.

Pros: all the women are categorically fully fleshed out with their own stories, feelings, plots. The children characters are all treated very respectfully. Art direction is beautiful, French voice overs are delightful. There’s a kid with learning difficulties who doesn’t get a big part but isn’t looked down on. There’s a beautiful relationship between the mayor’s son and a local shellfish girl that blossoms and breaks down class barriers.
Cons: not even a hint of any people of colour or queer folk
Genre: historical fiction, animation, French, cartoon, coming of age

It can be found: Netflix
Accessibility: closed captions 🙂

Approach carefully if: you have difficulty with anti-Semitism / holocaust plot lines (no concentration camps depicted), you struggle with depictions of bullying (a big brother repeatedly hits his little brother over the head), temporary orphans.

If you liked this, try: Kids on the Slope, Watership down, any Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away), Cowboy Bebop?

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