“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” – a well known saying and certainly applicable to The White Knights.
This film adopts a documentary style with the names changed to protect the innocent. There are layers of truth and controversy which require the viewer to form their own opinion regarding the moral dilemma presented.
Based on a true story, the film follows a French team that goes into Chad, Africa to set up a camp that will house, medicate and educate orphans under the age of six. Françoise Dubois, a journalist, is invited to come along with them and handle the media side of this operation.
The local villagers, though somewhat puzzled by the foreigners’ definition of “orphan”, are deluded by the idea that their children will get a better life. Operating under the pretence that the children will grow and re-enter society after 18 years, in reality the team plan to take the children to France after several months to be adopted by willing French families.
Under the cover of night, they discuss their escape strategy and make calls to French families about the children they’ll be bringing home.
I was left in two minds about this film. Certainly it made me think, and I could not help by make comparisons to Australia’s Stolen Generation. However, I was left exhausted from the team’s continual setbacks and this (along with the plodding pace of the film) left me disconnected with their plight.
Jacques Arnault and Laura Turine, who play the leader of the team and the journalist, give convincing performances. We really feel their pain. They are well supported by a solid cast.
The cinematography was visually striking. The aridness of Chad was vividly brought to life and the use of close-ups to highlight the actors’ inner struggles was not over used.
Director Anne Fontaine ensured that the realism and moral controversy was highlighted, however the pace just did not engage me.
The White Knights is a film that will definitely make you think. I know what my conclusion was. What’s yours?
Reviewed by Barry Hill
Rating out of 10: 6