An in-depth exploration of the various reactions by the French people to the Vichy government's acceptance of Nazi invasion.


Marcel Ophüls (as Marcel Ophuls)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Helmut Tausend Helmut Tausend ... Self, former Wehrmacht Captain (as Helmuth Tausend)
Marcel Verdier Marcel Verdier ... Self, pharmacist in Clermont-Ferrand
Alexis Grave Alexis Grave ... Self, Yronde farmer
Louis Grave Louis Grave ... Self, Yronde farmer, Résistance Fighter
Pierre Mendès-France ... Self, Former Prime Minister Of France
Emile Coulaudon Emile Coulaudon ... Self, Former Head of the Auvergne Maquis
Walter Warlimont Walter Warlimont ... Self, General, adjutant to the Wehrmacht Supreme Command
Georg Stumme Georg Stumme ... Self, general in the Wehrmacht (archive footage) (as General Stummel)
Tausend Tausend ... Self (as Frau Tausend)
Anthony Eden ... Self, Winston Churchill's foreign Secretary 1940-1945
Sepp Dietrich Sepp Dietrich ... Self, SS commander (archive footage) (as Zepp Dietrich)
Roger Tounze Roger Tounze ... Self, journalist for La Montage newspaper based in Clermont-Ferrand
Adolf Hitler ... Self (archive footage)
Albert Speer ... Self (archive footage)
Mr. Leiris Mr. Leiris ... self, Former Mayor Of Combronde (as Monsieur Leiris)


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


The Most Important Film of Its Kind Ever Made See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Originally intended for French television. However, French broadcasters refused to show it arguing the documentary depicted occupied France as exclusively populated by traitors. See more »


Sir Anthony Eden, Churchill's Foreign Secretary: There are two things we still haven't fully understood today concerning the position of de Gaulle and the Free French. In England at that time, there were several foreign governments, but they were all governments, whereas de Gaulle and the Free French were not. All the other powers here in London had come with their government. The Dutch, the Belgians, the Norwegians. Their government in London was the same as the one at home. But this wasn't the case in France, as Pétain was still in power.
Interviewer: Is...
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Referenced in Angel: Just Rewards (2003) See more »


Ça Sent si Bon la France
Music by Louiguy
Lyrics by Jacques Larue
Performed by Maurice Chevalier
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User Reviews

The Best World War II Film I've Seen
19 December 2001 | by arennSee all my reviews

I bought the DVD version of THE SORROW AND THE PITY not so much because I wanted to watch it, but because, as with many other classic films, I felt I should. At 4 hours long, I could never quite muster the will to screen it, with the end result that this film sat on my shelf for months before I finally gathered the courage to watch it last night. My original plan had been to screen the first disc one night then watch the rest after a decent interval of recovery. I quite frankly expected to be bored to death watching hours on end of interviews in French.

Boy was I wrong. This turned out to be one of the most engrossing films I've seen. Yes, it is too long. But you're willing to forgive it that. This is simply the best film I've seen on World War II. Numerous interviews with French politicians, teachers, shop keepers, peasants, hoteliers, and more along with ones of Germans and Englishmen gave one of the most revealing and human portraits of World War II - and of the French people - I've seen. Combined with included archival footage from the war, this made for what is clearly one of the great all time documentaries and greatest WWII films I've seen.

TSATP draws you in right away and really never lets up. Almost every interview enlightens in some way. Everybody talking has their own agenda - spin in modern parlance - but the director is able to combine these in a way that exposes the most blantant of falsehoods and also paints a realistic composite portrait. The Nazi propaganda films were also chilling. One early example is a film of black and arabic French soldiers captured by the Nazis with the implication that racial impurity led to the French demise.

I could go on and on about this but I think I'm running out of room and need to talk about the DVD. I highly recommend this film for anyone who wants to go beyond history book versions of the war.

As for the DVD version itself, there are several flaws, starting with the $50 price tag. Beyond that, the print used was a poor one. The quality of the interview scenes was not much better than that of the archival footage spliced in. The subtitles were also not that great. Interestingly, much of disc two appeared to have a remixed soundtrack. For interviewees in English and German, the director dubbed over a partial French translation with the original language reduced in the background. This partial French translation was then subtitled in English (and not always well). On disc two, quite a few of the English sections did not have French dubbing or subtitles, which is where I suspect the sound remix comes in. The ending was also quite abrupt and choppy (Maurice Chevalier in English?) and didn't have the feel of being original, though let me stress I've no real knowledge to substantiate this.

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Release Date:

25 March 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sorrow and the Pity See more »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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