Intense, thoughtful, delicate, and if a hair too slow, also hair-raising stuff
Blow up Paris? Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre? Yesalmost. And for real. It's 1944.
In the final days (or day) of the German occupation of Paris, as the Allies were moving very quickly in, the Germans (under Hitler's orders) were increasingly desperate. And bitter. They were going to leave the lovely city in ruinsyou know that kind of baby attitude, if I can't have it you can't have it either.
Well, we know that Paris was not blown up. (The city famously survived the truly brutal World War II with hardly a scratch, compared to the rest of Europe.) And the final decision to do it or notfell to one man, ultimately, aging commanding German General Choltitz. And a man appears in his quarters who we learn is the Swedish diplomat Raoul Nordling. Nordling sees the crisis, and sees the general's quandary, and has to find a way to stop the madness.
And so we have a condensed version of some very real events. The movie is based on a play which by necessity distilled this down to mostly these two characters in their hotel, though we are given a convincing sense of the city and the Germans around the hotel.
This is high drama in its purest simplest formconversation. The men try to understand each other. The general knows the Swede is trying to persuade him, and the Swede knows the general is under orders that can't be defied. There is the moment, and then there is history, and how the world will later look on the moment. And it all is spelled out with such delicious economy and psychology, it's riveting.
And even though you know that Paris survives, you won't know why or how, or how close it came to rubble, until you see this.
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