An in-depth exploration of the various reactions by the French people to the Vichy government's acceptance of Nazi invasion.An in-depth exploration of the various reactions by the French people to the Vichy government's acceptance of Nazi invasion.An in-depth exploration of the various reactions by the French people to the Vichy government's acceptance of Nazi invasion.
- Self, general in the Wehrmachtas Self, general in the Wehrmacht
- (archive footage)
- (as General Stummel)
- self, Former Mayor Of Combrondeas self, Former Mayor Of Combronde
- (as Monsieur Leiris)
Thirty years down the road, Ophüls' methodology is as interesting as the history he tells. Merely claiming that Ophüls had an argument seems to work against the surface of his film, for he disguises his point of view, his argument, behind the reminiscing of his interview subjects. The film is a classic of humanist culture in large part because Ophüls, in giving the people the chance to say their piece, apparently puts his faith in those people (and in the audience that watches them) to impart "truth." However, the filmmaker is much cannier than this; he is not artless. The editing of the various perspectives in the movie allows the viewer to form conclusions of their own that don't always match those of the people who are doing the talking in the film. In fact, The Sorrow and the Pity makes great demands on the viewer, not just because of the film's length: Ophüls assumes you are processing the information he's providing, and so the film gets better as it progresses, with the viewer's attention being rewarded in direct correlation with the effort you put in.
And Ophüls is himself the primary interviewer in the film; you don't often actually see him, but he's there, asking the questions, leading on his subjects and his audience, only partly hidden (visually and philosophically) from view. The movie might look easy; there are none of the showy flourishes of a Kubrick or Stone here (or of Max Ophüls, for that matter). But the viewer is advised to remember that Ophüls' guiding hand is always in the background, constructing the film's version of the truth just as the characters do in their stories.
- Jan 31, 2002