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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)
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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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Credited cast:
Georges Bidault ...
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)


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 <>

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?


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


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.
See more »


Referenced in The 'Alien' Saga (2002) See more »


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

22 October 2004 | by (Brussels, Belgium) – See all my reviews

A masterpiece in the genre of the documentary. This is a long movie. You've got to have time on your hands, and a little bit of patience to allow Ophüls to unravel all the strands of the French attitude under German occupation. But the journey is worth every minute of your time.

Focusing on the town of Clermont-Ferrand, Ophüls tries to understand what it was to live with German soldiers in your town, an optimistic and collaborating government, an exiled general urging you to resist and underground organizations who used terrorism as their only weapon. Ophüls does not multiply the number of interviewees. He chooses about 15 of them and interviews them long enough that you understand their comments within the context of their personality and outlook. But the most surprising is the variety among the interviewees: a very courageous farmer, a reckless British spy, a British minister, a self-sufficient German general, a doubting German soldier, a chauvinistic bourgeois, a young nobleman attracted by the Nazi theories, a young disillusioned nobleman-philosopher ready to sacrifice his life, a clear-sighted Jewish government representative, a naïve woman, a Communist, a nationalist. You'll be surprised to find out who is the most perceptive of the bunch …

19 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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