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Terror's Advocate (2007)

L'avocat de la terreur (original title)
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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.


Barbet Schroeder
2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Jacques Vergès ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bassam Abu Sharif Bassam Abu Sharif ... Himself
Klaus Barbie ... Himself (archive footage)
Abderrahmane Benhamida Abderrahmane Benhamida ... Himself
Djamila Bouhared Djamila Bouhared ... Herself
Bachir Boumaza Bachir Boumaza ... Himself
Maître Brahimi Maître Brahimi ... Himself
Louis Caprioli Louis Caprioli ... Himself
Carlos Carlos ... Himself (voice)
Nuon Chea Nuon Chea ... Himself
Isabelle Coutant-Peyre Isabelle Coutant-Peyre ... Herself
Jean-Paul Dollé Jean-Paul Dollé ... Himself
Zohra Drif-Bitat Zohra Drif-Bitat ... Herself (as Zohra Drif)
Guillaume Durand ... Himself (archive footage)
Lionel Duroy Lionel Duroy ... Himself


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Dictators. Terrorists. War Criminals. Meet the man who defended them all.


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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French | German | English | Khmer

Release Date:

6 June 2007 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Terror's Advocate See more »

Filming Locations:

Algiers, Algeria See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,197, 14 October 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$41,938, 4 November 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jacques Vergès: I was asked "Would you defend Hitler?" I said "I'd even defend Bush! But only if he agrees to plead guilty."
See more »


Referenced in Siskel & Ebert: The Best of 2007 (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

The Life and Times of a Joker
16 December 2008 | by manuel-pestalozziSee all my reviews

After having seen Schroeder's Idi Amin and Kiki the talking gorilla, I was disappointed by L'avocat. From an artistic point of view it is not on the same level. I found it difficult to recognize the organizing, guiding hand of the director. Also, the subject is strangely out of focus – but that is maybe just one of the points the movie wants to make. Maître Vergès must be a pretty elusive fellow and certainly not someone who let himself manipulate by a movie maker. And - contrary to Amin and the gorilla - Vergès is just not very telegenic. That's certainly nobody's fault, it's just a fact.

What remains for me are the many „bonmots" this movie contains. It did not become clear to me if Vergès ever was a good lawyer. I suspect he always saw the court of law principally as a stage for making political statements or for furthering a certain self image. But he certainly is a great story teller. „My only war wound", he tells the interviewer, „was self inflicted – I cut a finger when I closed my pocket knife after eating a dish of oysters". „Mao listened to me attentively – or maybe he just wanted to be polite." It is fun to listen to him telling these anecdotes and being disrespectful, even to himself. Many, maybe too many other people make their entrance as interviewees. Even for someone who has a notion of the last few decades of world history it is not always easy to follow.

Saying all this, I have to credit the movie for forming a pattern of statements, places and time periods that recount events which brought a lot of pain and sorrow to this planet. The central question - is Maître Vergès a man with a cause? - remains unanswered. Somehow he shifted from one „liberation movement" to the next, maybe connected to secret services, maybe not - his aims apparently as fuzzy as those of the said movements - never drowning like others but always ending up seemingly comfortably on the surface. It is never clear how much Vergès was a prime mover on the terrorist scene or a teleguided pawn. After seeing this movie I would liken him to a joker in a pack of cards.

Someone not very deep into history might be surprised at how L'avocat shows that there were always connections and sympathies between old, active Nazis and young, seemingly leftist revolutionaries. Others know the old French saying: Les extrèmes se touchent.

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