New Movie Tells the Story of French Citizens Fleeing the onset of World War Two

South Florida theatergoers have a treat with the opening of the French film Come What May.

Set during World War II in northern France, it tells the story of the mass migration of millions of citizens to escape the German invasion in May 1940.

The residents of a tiny French village which have to flee are led by their unenthusiastic mayor (Olivier Gourmet), also taking with a German child whose father (portrayed by August Diehl) who opposes the Nazi regiment and was jailed for lying concerning his nationality. The child’s father also seeks to escape to search for his son and is joined by a Scottish serviceman (Matthew Rhys) who is attempting to return to Britain.

The film draws on numerous testimonies, including the memories of the writer-director Christian Carion, whose mother was 14 at the time.

Carion labels his film as personal because of his mother’s story. She told me exactly what she did in that one month. He always told himself the event could be a powerful story. He also resolved to make the film because in France and overseas the story isn’t well known since it takes place at the start of World War II.

He said that time in French history is shameful. French history books only give two lines about May 1940, that he thinks is an error. The French don’t like to discuss it, but he thinks they should, Carion said. They have to understand why it occurred, Sun Sentinal reported.

When questioned about what he thinks Jews can take from the film, he said he often talked with Charles S. Cohen, chairman and CEO of Cohen Media Group, the distribution company releasing the film.

Cohen said a reason for choosing the film, particularly with his own story of his family who fled Europe with others to the United States, was that he was affected by the many people who resolved to leave, Carion related.

Director of the Miami Jewish Festival, Igor Shteyrenberg, said in an email the imagery is both lavish and ominous. The film gives a new perspective and a lasting moral dilemma. It brings a little-known part of history to frightening life.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE