A documentary on Jacques Vergès, the controversial lawyer and former Free French Forces guerrilla who has defending unpopular figures such as Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.
An examination of the career of Jacques Vergès (1925- ), attorney for members of Algeria's FLN, Palestine's FPLP, the Khmer Rouge, Carlos and associates, Klaus Barbie, and other revolutionaries and outcasts. Archival footage, news articles, and photographs mix with contemporary interviews of Vergès, friends, associates, and historians. Connections with Nazis are explored, as well as Vergès's marriage to Djamila Bouhared, his courtroom methods, his disappearance from 1970 to 1978, and the roots of his radicalism. Throughout, Vergès remains playful and charming, with a soupçon of arrogance. The film suggests Vergès's anti-colonial nature is at his center. Written by
This movie gives an astonishingly revealing picture of the outspoken French lawyer Jacques Vergès, who defended such controversial figures as the terrorist Carlos, the Nazi criminal Klaus Barbie or a member of the Algerian resistance against French rule, Djamila Bouhireb. Jacques Vergès even confirms that he would have defended Adolf Hitler IF he pleaded guilty (George Steiner did it in his formidable book 'In Bluebeard's Castle').
The movie reveals also the existence of a right-wing - religious financial network which provides judicial help for former fascists, like Nazi criminals. However, Barbet Schroeder could not uncover the exact nature of Jacques Vergès's pro-Palestinian actions or his support of the Red Khmer regime (on which he gives here, again controversially, a more or less positive comment) during the years of his life when he acted 'behind the scenes'.
This movie is a fascinating portrait of an iconoclastic rebel with a formidable intelligence and a profound analyzing capacity of the dark regions of man's nature and the amoral or immoral motives behind his behavior. By incorporating this behavior in a global context of 'a world at war, a resistance to a colonial rule or a defense of minorities', he could (can) denounce all the parties involved or attack frontally the existing global world order and its alleged morality. A must see.
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