The Sorrow And The Pity


Thirty-five years after its first release, Marcel Ophuls' epic documentary remains a monumental achievement. Set in the occupied France of World War Two, it focuses on the town of Clermont-Ferrand, ruled by Marshal Petain's puppet Vichy regime, and draws on archive footage and interviews with French citizens from a range of professions and social classes. Their responses puncture a collective amnesia and comprehensively demolish the Gaullist myth of a nation bravely united in resisting the Nazi invader. The truth, it emerges, is far more prosaic, the majority of French people neither resisting nor collaborating with their oppressors, but simply carrying on with their lives as they wait for the war to end.

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