The Sorrow and the Pity

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The Sorrow and the Pity
Directed by Marcel Ophüls
Written by Marcel Ophüls
André Harris
Release date(s) September 18, 1969
Running time 251 min.
Language French/German/English

The Sorrow and the Pity (French: Le chagrin et la pitié) is a two-part 1969 documentary film by Marcel Ophüls about the collaboration between the Vichy government and Nazi Germany during World War II. The film uses interviews with a German officer, collaborators, and resistance fighters from Clermont-Ferrand. They comment on the nature of and reasons for collaboration. The reasons include antisemitism, anglophobia, fear of Bolsheviks and Soviet invasion, the desire for power, and simple caution.

Synopsis[edit]

Part One of the film, The Collapse, has an extended interview with Pierre Mendès-France. He was jailed by the Vichy government on charges of desertion, but escaped from jail to join Charles de Gaulle's forces operating out of England, and later served as Prime Minister of liberated France.

Part Two, The Choice, revolves around Christian de la Mazière, who is something of a counterpoint to Mendès-France. Whereas Mendès-France was a French Jewish political figure who joined the Resistance, de la Mazière, an aristocrat who embraced Fascism, was one of 7,000 French youth to fight on the Eastern Front wearing German uniforms.

The film shows the French people's response to occupation as heroic, pitiable, and monstrous, sometimes all at once. The postwar humiliation of the women who served (or were married to) Vichy men perhaps gives the strongest mix of all three. Maurice Chevalier's "Sweepin' the Clouds Away" is the theme tune of the film.

Interviewees[edit]

Persons interviewed for the film[edit]

Persons present or speaking in archival footage[edit]

Production[edit]

Release[edit]

This film was first shown on French television in 1981 after being banned for years. It is frequently assumed that the reason was French reluctance to admit the facts of French history. While this may have been a factor, the principal mover in the decision was Simone Veil, a Jewish inmate of Auschwitz who became a minister and the first President of the European Parliament, on the grounds that the film presented too one-sided a view.[1]

Reception[edit]

TIME magazine gave a positive review of the film, and wrote that Marcel Ophüls "tries to puncture the bourgeois myth—or protectively askew memory—that allows France generally to act as if hardly any Frenchmen collaborated with the Germans."[2] It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1971 for Best Documentary Feature.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

In Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977), Alvy and Annie watch the film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simone Veil, Mémoires, Paris, 2008
  2. ^ Monday, Mar. 27, 1972 (1972-03-27). "TIME magazine: Truth and Consequences". Time.com. Retrieved 2012-08-27. 
  3. ^ "NY Times: The Sorrow and the Pity". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 

External links[edit]