Jeux interdits - Forbidden Games (1952) dir. René Clement

Paulette's parents and her pet are shot in front of her.  She wanders through France, but finds an older boy, Michel.  Michel's family brings Paulette in and cares for her.  Paulette and Michel become friends, and build a pet cemetery with stolen crosses.  The mysterious cross thefts create a fight between two feuding families, and Paulette must be sent away.

How should Paulette and Michel have coped with the war?  The adults think they coped poorly.  But the adults handle it worse -- they start a war of their own.

The children behave as children do.  They know their thefts are wrong, but they are innocent of understanding the full context.  They commit their crimes secretly, guiltily, not knowing why they're doing it or pausing to consider the question.  Their response to their lives' horrors are incoherent and muddled.  But so is everyone's.

Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games) is #391 on the 2012 edition of the TSPDT 1,000 list I’m blogging through.  I’ve now seen 433.