Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, (and don't come back)
Charles Schultz' Peanuts gang once more
transfer their base of operations from the comic
pages to the big screen. Charlie Brown, Lucy,
Linus and the rest are exchange students this
time out, taking in the sights of England and
France. Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy finds himself
competing at the Wimbledon tennis championship,
shortly before everyone moves on to the
Continent. In France, the gang is ensconced in a
lavish chateau thanks to an unseen benefactor.
Producers Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez do
their usual excellent job in bypassing corniness
and sentiment, allowing Charlie Brown et. al. to
maintain the integrity established years earlier by
the prolific Charlie Schultz.
What have we learned, Charlie Brown?
As they begin to head
back from the chateau to the train station for the return trip to London (where they would return back to the US by plane), their problematic rented car slows their progress, before breaking down entirely in a small French town. Renting another car from a French madam (who immediately accepts their offer after realizing Snoopy is, in fact, a World War I Flying Ace) the group soon becomes lost and camps at a nearby beach for the night. Linus, however, wakes up shortly before daybreak and walks along the beach, realizing they are at Omaha Beach. Linus then tells of the battle of D-Day, leading the group to the nearby cemetery for all of the American soldiers. The voice of General Dwight Eisenhower is also heard, reminiscing about the experiences of the battle. Archival news footage is also used, in some cases with the characters inserted through rotoscoping. While proceeding up north, the group headed towards Ypres, which Linus recognized as the site of a series of battles during World War I. They arrives at a field of red poppies, which grew throughout the wastelands of battles fought during the war, and which serves as a marker for the Ypres battle site. Linus then recites the poem In Flanders Fields, after directing the group to the British field dressing station where McCrae was inspired to write the poem. They come away realizing what the impact of the wars were, and how important the sacrifice of the soldiers was. Standing among the field of red poppies, Linus then turns and asks, "What have we learned, Charlie Brown?"
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