The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la Pitié) (1972) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la Pitié) (1972)

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Made for French television, Marcel Ophüls' four-hour-plus documentary explores the average French citizen's memories of the Nazi occupation. Just how large and effective was the fabled resistance movement? Is cooperation the same thing as collaboration? And how did one's up-close-and-personal experiences with the occupation troops impact one's postwar life? These questions are probingly posed (but not all are answered) by Ophüls, who also acts as offscreen interviewer. The first half of the film is a mosaic of sights and sounds from the years 1940-1944: Maurice Chevalier singing for the German troops, clips of propagandistic newsreels, appalling vignettes from the scurrilous anti-Semitic film drama Jew Suss (1940), and the like. Ophüls' interpretation of history as the "process of recollection, in things like choice, selective memory, rationalization" is fully illustrated in the film's long second half, which is devoted almost entirely to interviews, in which the subjects display emotions ranging from mild embarrassment to abrupt rage. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la Pitié)

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (6)

It's valuable mainly as a brilliant assemblage of documents and testimonies.

October 6, 2007 | Full Review…

The mosaic is comprehensive, the documentation overwhelming, particularly regarding the nature and extent of collaboration.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In its complexity, its humanity, its refusal to find easy solutions, this is one of the greatest documentaries ever made.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

It soberly spotlights history -- impressively human, not pedantic, levels.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It remains the preeminent documentary about historical tragedy and one of the most exhilaratingly demanding experiences the movies have ever offered.

August 11, 2002

The postwar, Gaullist myth of massive French resistance to fascism has long since been destroyed, yet The Sorrow and the Pity retains its shattering power as an interrogation of memory.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Sorrow and the Pity (Le Chagrin et la Pitié)

I had always thought devotion to this movie was being made fun of in Annie Hall, until I saw it (and it takes a while to see it). The drama is amazing during the second half, with all you know about the characters from the first.

Adam Mahler
Adam Mahler

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]Directed by Marcel Ophuls, "The Sorrow and the Pity" is an epic documentary about the occupation of France by Nazi Germany from 1940-1944 during World War II, with the spotlight on the city of Clermont which is close to Vichy. The documentary starts out by being a damning examination of the French surrender and capitulation, leading to a collaboration with the Nazis that led to increased anti-Semitism, which may not have totally faded decades later. And in one horrific instance, the French authorities outdo the Nazis in cruelty. The bourgeoisie are portrayed as living their lives as usual during the occupation but the Communists who formed a good deal of the resistance are treated much better. Anti-Communist fervor was a factor that led the French ultra-nationalists to work with the Nazis.[/font] [font=Century Gothic][/font] [font=Century Gothic]The documentary consists of interviews with English, French and German participants recalling their wartime experiences a quarter century after the fact. Most prominent of the interviewees are Anthony Eden and Pierre Mendes-France. Also shown are clips from Nazi propaganda films.[/font]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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