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The Sorrow and the Pity (1969)
"Le chagrin et la pitié" (original title)

PG  |   |  Documentary, History, War  |  25 March 1972 (USA)
8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 2,540 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 31 critic

From 1940 to 1944, France's Vichy government collaborated with Nazi Germany. Marcel Ophüls mixes archival footage with 1969 interviews of a German officer and of collaborators and ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Georges Bidault ...
Himself
Matthäus Bleibinger ...
Himself - Wehrmacht Soldier in the Auvergne (as Mathaus Bleibinger)
Charles Braun
Maurice Buckmaster ...
Himself - Former Head of the British Underground
Emile Coulaudon ...
Himself - Former Head of the Auvergne Maquis
Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie ...
Himself - Founder of the Liberation Movement
René de Chambrun ...
Himself - International Lawyer (as Count René de Chambrun)
Christian de la Mazière ...
Himself - Aristocratic Former Nazi
Darquier de Pellepoix ...
Himself - Handshake with Heydrich (archive footage)
Jacques Doriot ...
Himself - Head of the French Popular Party, 1942 (archive footage)
R. Du Jonchay ...
Himself - Head of the Resistance Movement (as Colonel R. du Jonchay)
Jacques Duclos ...
Himself - Former Secretary of the Clandestine Communist Party
Anthony Eden ...
(as Lord Avon)
Sgt. Evans
Marcel Fouche-Degliame ...
Himself - Director of the Combat Movement (as Marcel Degliame-Fouche)
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Storyline

From 1940 to 1944, France's Vichy government collaborated with Nazi Germany. Marcel Ophüls mixes archival footage with 1969 interviews of a German officer and of collaborators and resistance fighters from Clermont-Ferrand. They comment on the nature, details and reasons for the collaboration, from anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and fear of Bolsheviks, to simple caution. Part one, "The Collapse," includes an extended interview with Pierre Mendès-France, jailed for anti-Vichy action and later France's Prime Minister. At the heart of part two, "The Choice," is an interview with Christian de la Mazière, one of 7,000 French youth to fight on the eastern front wearing German uniforms. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

25 March 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sorrow and the Pity  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally intended for French television but broadcasters refused to show it. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Claude Levy: France is the only government in all Europe whose government collaborated. Others signed an armistice or surrendered, but France was the only country to have collaborated and voted laws which were even more racist than the Nuremberg laws, as the French racist criteria were even more demanding than the German racist criteria. It's not something to be proud of.
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Connections

Referenced in Angel: Conviction (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

to 'Triumph over France'"
Written by Grigory Kaputnikov (pseudo-name Siegfried Karl Schlegelmeyer)
(heard in footage when Hitler cames to Paris)
See more »

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User Reviews

Fine though un-systematic look at French in city during German Occupation
12 December 2002 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

This is a fine documentary. Marcel Ophuls, the interviewer and director, is never too intrusive, never too opinionated - like a Ted Koppel or Jim Lehrer, he doesn't try to censor the views of those he interviews but to ask questions to help elucidate them.

The documentary selects a few dozen people to interview - virtually all with different roles and attitudes during the Occupation. I found particularly interesting:

the French doctor with "7.5 children" (?) who was concerned primarily with feeding his family throughout the Occupation and was thrilled when hunting began after a two year moratorium,

the champion bicyclist who began against great competition in 1943 because of the number of French riding bicycles due to the absence of gas to run their motorbikes or cars (and who said he didn't see many Germans around Clermont-Ferrand in Vichy France)

the extraordinarily gentlemanly and rather shy-seeming Resistance chief who refused to cooperate with the Communists in his ferocious anti-Nazi work,

the British transvestite singer who became a secret agent for the British in occupied France and broke up with his German soldier lover for fear of compromising him,

Anthony Eden's extraordinary tact and intelligence,

Pierre Mendes-France's wonderful restraint, objectivity, humor and

absence of recrimination,

the German father of the bride at a wedding reception whose attitude toward his (undoubtedly brave) service in the War is wholly uncolored by the fact that the country for which he fought was the aggressor, totalitarian, and vigorously persecutor of groups - (I actually suspect that if one were merely a soldier and had not personally acted dishonorably in the War, this is the attitude that most would have -whether a German or Russian soldier - despite extending one's own horrible system into the rest of Europe).

For one, such as myself, who does believe the Communist Party, especially in those days of Stalin, to have been as great a menace to the world as the Nazi Party, the documentary's failure to ever ask the Communist officials interviewed about their beliefs about substituting one horror for another is disappointing. I could not forget as I watched the interviews of Communists, the 14.5 million recently killed by the Russians in Ukraine as the result of the terror famine imposed on that region - or the Great Terror that killed more millions and concluded just as the War began. In fact, M. Ophuls discomfits the Resistance leader who defied Orders from the Free French in London to cooperate with the Communists against the Nazis - I felt like applauding his behavior!

I'm sure for most, the most fascinating character is M. de la Maziere, the extraordinarily candid, intelligent, disarming and charming aristocrat and former Fascist youth who, at the end of the War, volunteered to serve on the Eastern Front in the German Waffen S.S. - from which only 300 of the 5000 survived. He was quite remarkable to hear - he'd obviously spent a great deal of time thinking about what he had done, why, and although regretful, was unsparing in his description of what he knew and what he had done. However, in interviewing him in a German castle used between the Wars by the Kaiser, and in 1944 for Petain and Laval, the documentary makes it appear as if the castle somehow relates to de la Maziere - as if he owned it

  • when in fact Ophuls simply took him there for the interview. It's the one


dishonest seeming moment in this wonderful documentary.

I strongly recommmend that others see it - you will wonder how you would react, and think about what those in your own country would react to foreign occupation.


22 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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