A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophuls, 1969)

Christian de la Mazière, one of those interviewed in The Sorrow and the Pity
An adverse political situation typically elicits three responses: collaboration, resistance, and patient endurance. The problem with the third is that it's hard to sustain under pressure from the other two. Such is the lesson of The Sorrow and the Pity, the great documentary by Marcel Ophüls about France during the German occupation. It can't be said that Ophüls is even-handed and impartial in his treatment of the survivors of that era who testify in his film. That kind of disinterestedness is not only impossible but immoral, considering the horrors inflicted by the Nazis. But it's the kind of film that makes you understand what people endured, and question how you yourself would have behaved in the same (or a similar) situation. That's also why I think the film is essential viewing, especially this week, with the inauguration of a man whose thoughts and actions seem so abhorrent to many people and so attractive to others.

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