The Sorrow and the Pity


Le chagrin et la pitié (1969)
Director: Marcel Ophüls
Runtime: 251 min

This two-part documentary analyzes the occupation of France in World War II through the example of a city with a population of approximately 100,000 people. The spirit of the time is quite well conveyed with the use of archive materials, as well as interviews with members of the resistance movement, collaborators with the occupying forces, and German soldiers who participated in the occupation. Everyone is given the space to express their views and explain the logic that guided them during the war. A side of French history, today mostly hidden, is presented: dark and shameful collaboration, but also the heroic resistance to the occupation – all this in the context of a true civilizational tragedy. The film has been banned in France for more than ten years (it wasn’t aired on TV until 1981), supposedly because it was too one-sided, but in fact because it showed the extent of the collaboration and the burden of historical responsibility for the committed crimes – a history that was rushed to be forgotten, in order not to disturb the post-war social consensus and the re-established status quo.

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