The Film: The Sorrow and the Pity

This paper discusses the movie, “The Sorrow and Pity”, by producer/director Marcel Ophuls, which relates the behavior of the French during World War II.

This paper explains that the movie, “The Sorrow and the Pity”, explores the fact that France fell in only 42 days during WWII, in spite of having the largest army in the world and that many of the French quickly made accommodations or even collaborated with the Germans. The author relates that the 1971 movie about the German occupation, including about 40 personal interviews with a whole range of individuals, including farmers, journalists, government officials, aristocrats, business owners, historians, attorneys, educators, and resistance fighters, as well as news clips from the time, was refused for viewing by the French TV stations. The author believes that one of the key reasons the film remains so memorable is the way the story is told with no scripting; everyone tells his or her own story in his or her own words with no editing by the interviewer.
“On the side of the resistance supporters, farmer Louis Grave offers a serious personal story of the work he and his brother Alexis did for the resistance. For his efforts, Grave was denounced by a neighbor and sent to a concentration camp, and his anger still shows in the interview. If “The Sorrow and the Pity” has heroes in the truest sense of the word, it is surely Louis and Alexis. These simple farmers knew what they were resisting and why, since they had done a thorough job of thinking about their actions. Director Ophuls makes it clear, through his in-depth evidence and anecdotes that the Occupation presented the French with complex questions. Fighting for the resistance or not was a decision that no one would enter into blindly and without strong emotions one way or another.”

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