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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Movie Info

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 (24) | Top Critics (6)

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

Full Review… | October 6, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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

August 11, 2002
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Village Voice
Top Critic

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

½

8/20/16 Sundance Doc Club Again a documentary does what no studio film could. A detailed and carefully crafted story about occupation, collaboration and revenge this story told through extensive interviews interspersed with news reel film is so compelling that the 4 hour length flies by. This is an important part of WW ll history that can't be missed.

Nick Ueber
Nick Ueber

My library's copy was scratched so out of 4 hours and 9 minutes, I only got about 3 hours and 54 minutes. Whatever, it was a little disjointed, but fascinating.

Andy Cramer
Andy Cramer

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

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