War of the Buttons could have made a lovely little coming of age film, had it been set during any other time period. Instead, it is a strange movie which doesn’t exist in reality while trying to tackle serious issues. Even the humor found in Life is Beautiful was not at the expense of the gravity in the situation, but the Holocaust is a mere story contrivance in War of the Buttons. There appears no attempt to show an accurate depiction, while the film’s narrative is weighed down on the insistence that it be central to the story.
War of the Buttons comes from filmmaker Christophe Barratier (The Chorus), who once again returns to the classroom for much of the film’s structure. The teacher is played by Guillaume Canet, though the film’s protagonist is class clown and leader, Lebrac (Jean Texier). Lebrac leads the rest of the boys in his class in a war against boys from an opposing village, with buttons being the ultimate sign of conquest.
The story is adapted from the novel by Louis Pergaud, which has previously been adapted several times, including another adaptation set in the 1960s which was also released in 2011, and one set in
from 1994. The elements of
Nazi-France within the story simply feel out of place amongst the other issues
the children are facing, despite all the best efforts to blend them together. Ireland
The DVD includes a making-of featurette, as well as deleted scenes and a blooper reel.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
Disc Features: 6/10