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While Parisian ‘society’ continues in its usual spin of theatre, opera, horse racing and carefully choreographed love affairs under Nazi occupation, the sleepy town of Clermont-Ferrand welcomes their new-found German rulers with open arms. In the midst of all this, thousands of socialist-minded workers, gypsies and refugees are witch-hunted, imprisoned and then transported to concentration camps and eventual death.
The unlikely setting of the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo provides the focus of Marcel OPHÜLS’ exploration of journalistic ethics during wartime. From this base, OPHÜLS and his camera follow international world-renown journalist as they get on with the business of filtering and selecting the day’s news in the troubled city before it becomes tomorrow’s Fish’n Chip paper. Amongst those subject to OPHÜLS’ incisive interview skills include Pulitzer Prize winner John Burns of the New York Times and other luminaries from the precarious world of war reporting.
This is an idiosyncratic work from a master of his craft, combining his customary cynicism with biting comment as he meticulously investigates his subject matter - this time that world famous edifice of human repression, the Berlin Wall. Spanning November 9 1989 to November 9 1990, this film mixes actual news-footage of the crumbing of the Berlin Wall with post-wall interviews with some of the lead players in the former German Democratic Republic’s political elite, as well as interviews with ordinary East Germans.
Knowing popular parlance as ‘The Butcher of Lyon’, Klause Barbie was a notorious World War II criminal. He was the head of the Gestapo in Lyon, France, during Nazi occupation, filling dread in the hearts of local Jews and resistance workers - more than 10,000 of whom perished at his hands. After the liberation, he evaded escape by co-operating with American Intelligence agents who eventually saw he safe passage to Bolivia. During the making of the film, Barbie was languishing in a French jail, awaiting trail for his wartime exploits.
On March 16 1968, the US Army’s 11th Light Infantry Brigade under the command of Lt. William Calley, completely destroyed the village My Lai and three hundred individuals were massacred. The GI’s orders to “search and destroy” had been transformed in a twinkling of the eye into the “My Lai Massacre” - never to be erased from history. Director Marcel OPHÜLS returns to that blackest of historical pages in the hope of understanding how the tragedy happened. Through scores of interviews, the ugly and weak side of human nature is gradually laid bare.
Eyes on History: Marcel OPHÜLS
Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klause Barbie
France, United States
Germany, United Kingdom
France, Germany, Switzerland
The Troubles We've Seen: A History of Journalism in Wartime
France, Germany, United Kingdom