It’s “The Sorrow and the Pity” without the interviews, really. It makes you realize how much the Occupation corrupted the country and defiled the national consciousness. The French narration assures us that this is the version of real life that the Vichy government wanted the population to accept - it wasn’t the true nature of French life during the war. Perhaps. But those crowds that showed up to cheer Petain were quite large and enthusiastic. As were those who showed up to cheer DeGaulle when the war ended, of course.There is an element of French thinking that is habitually obtuse.
There were some interesting parallels to modern times - the collaborators all insisted that France had not just a role to play in the New Order of Europe, but a crucial role. A uniquely French role, carried out with French methods and French ideas and French ingenuity. (Specifics not available at press time.) There’s this desperate need to insist not only on France’s relevance in an era dominated by Germany, but France’s indispensability.
Monday, March 31, 2003
History's Echo: Lileks has a make-me-squirm miniessay on "Eye of Vichy," a movie made up of newsreel footage from occupied France: