The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophüls, 1969)

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Metropolisforever_2

The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophüls, 1969)

#1 Post by Metropolisforever_2 » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:54 pm

A while ago, I tried to watch this movie, but I turned it off, because I found it to be incredibly boring.

Should I try to watch it again?

What are your thoughts on this movie?

Nothing
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:04 am

#2 Post by Nothing » Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:03 pm

I found the subject interesting, in a straight-up televisual documentary sense, but as a work of art it's non-existent.

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
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#3 Post by david hare » Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:28 am

As is that cunt Marcel.

Such a shame! I was having lunch today with a very old friend, now 64 who remembered Marcel's Big "I am Perfect" Routine at the SFF midnineties in which he berated first the audience, and then the organizers, over his Bosnian war film. Apparently he was hissed off when he left the stage. THis after the viewers had admired the film itself.

The guy is a total creep, literally the Beatrice Welles of Euro cinema, and I get the impression he is universally loathed by every individual cinephile or industry person he's ever met. (I never had the misfortune to meet him, thank christ.)

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Don Lope de Aguirre
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#4 Post by Don Lope de Aguirre » Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:00 am

The guy is a total creep [...] and I get the impression he is universally loathed by every individual cinephile or industry person he's ever met.
Jesus! That's some hatchet job DH! I happen to rate this film highly and lament the unavailability of both Hôtel Terminus : Klaus Barbie and Veillées d'armes on DVD (available and forthcoming in France...).

As to his character, I can not comment but if you could please elaborate it would be much appreciated...

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:04 am

Oh, don L, his films are one thing and the Sorrow and the Pity IS a good film, but the man himself..

God spare me, or more importantly anyone who has to deal with him professionally....

The biz over Lola Montez is totally wretched, and literally at Beatrice levels of psychotic egotism.

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Polybius
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:57 pm
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#6 Post by Polybius » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:33 am

Well, I was going to write that this was the best documentary ever filmed, but I think maybe I'll just go sit over there and eat a banana or something.

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Sloper
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 10:06 pm

#7 Post by Sloper » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:40 am

I loved Sorrow and the Pity, but as soon as I started to watch the Ophuls interview included on the DVD I conceived a strong dislike for the man, and switched off. I think one of the great things about the film is the relative lack of intrusion from Ophuls: it's just a really compelling, well-assembled set of interviews, which to me is the ideal of what a documentary should be. The four or five hours flew by.

Conversely, I only made it 90 minutes into Shoah, mainly because I found Claude Lanzmann to be one of the most loathsome and incompetent interviewers I've ever seen, constantly intruding upon (and thus ruining) every potentially interesting interview with his combative, self-righteous manner, and his tendency to simply repeat what the interviewee just said as a question, rather than actually finding anything interesting to ask. He just mooches around, smoking at his subjects, trying to look intellectual. And the 'artistic' pretensions of the film were equally offensive - interminable, empty shots of train lines and fields and rivers. Perhaps it's impossible to say anything about the Holocaust that isn't essentially banal, and Shoah certainly reinforces that impression.

My point being that, though Ophuls may be a world-class asshole, he did at least have the decency to leave himself (more or less) out of the picture. I remember some interviews in Sorrow with ex-collaborators, or actual Nazis, in which the subjects were mostly given space in which to tell their stories. Perhaps Shoah improves as you get into it (in which case it needs some serious editing), but the impression I got from what I saw was that Lanzmann was far more interested in showing how non-anti-semitic he was than in committing revealing, valuable testimonies to celluloid.

drdoros
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 4:36 pm

Marcel

#8 Post by drdoros » Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:22 am

Having had a working (faxes and letters) relationship with Marcel now for many years, I have to say that we see a different side that is warm and enthusiastic. Yes, I've head about the other Marcel (and read one of his biting letters to others) but we have yet to see it ourselves. On Milestone's 15th anniversary, he said wonderful things about Milestone in an interview to Variety -- something I remember when I'm really frustrated with the business.

As for his documentaries, seeing Sorrow and the Pity in college (Marcel was in attendance) thrilled me like no other film and I spent twenty years trying to acquire the rights. It's still one of the best films in Milestone's collection. Most go in thinking it's a Nazi history lesson, but if you see it as an investigation into how humans react during times of greatest danger (they resist, collaborate or fall into the greatest trap -- survival/apathy), then it's one of the great documentaries of any age. I feel like trying to change the world everytime I see it. But that's my opinion -- people should judge it for themselves, of course.

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david hare
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#9 Post by david hare » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:25 pm

I must say until yesterday, apart from the business with supression of the German Lola Montez restoration, I had heard nothing about this side of Marcel. And these sorts of legal tassles nowadays are hardly uncommon in the high end of film history and the descendants of the greats. The report of his his behavior came form someone i've known for forty years who himself is so gentle and unflappable it was a complete shock.

The most charitable view I can take of it is that perhaps people who are "driven" particularly by issues of social injustice and the whitewashing of history, as he has can perhaps be far more prone to misanthropy and paranoia the rest of this. That at least is a sentiment I can understand, even though the circumstances of any given demonstration of it may be however unprovoked. Marcel Ophuls would not te the first person in the twentieth century to lash out, but on this particular occasion it followed a completely engaged and tumultuous audience appreciation for the work on view.

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Polybius
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#10 Post by Polybius » Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:07 am

Sloper wrote: I remember some interviews in Sorrow with ex-collaborators, or actual Nazis, in which the subjects were mostly given space in which to tell their stories.
Which is often a particularly effective technique in getting that type to drop their masks and show what they really are.

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GaryC
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#11 Post by GaryC » Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:17 am

Does anyone know why The Sorrow and the Pity was not released commercially in the UK until 2004? I know it's a four-hour, black and white, mostly subtitled documentary but - given the Oscar, and its obvious relevance to historians and students - it would have had some kind of release in the early 70s? (It may have been shown without a certificate, but there's no BBFC pass until 2004.)

My best guess is there may have been legal issues with someone still alive in 1972 who had passed away before 2004, but that's only speculation. Does anyone know for sure?

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MichaelB
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#12 Post by MichaelB » Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:58 am

It wasn't reviewed by the Monthly Film Bulletin, which isn't an absolutely clinching sign that it didn't get a commercial release in the early 1970s, but it does strongly point that way. Sight & Sound devoted three pages to it in the Autumn 1971 issue, but my collection doesn't go back that far so I can't check the context.

I'd be very surprised if a film with its reputation hadn't been screened at all in Britain prior to 2004, but the BBFC wouldn't have been interested if such screenings had only been in the form of, say, occasional airings at the French Institute.

drdoros
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 4:36 pm

#13 Post by drdoros » Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:35 am

MichaelB wrote:It wasn't reviewed by the Monthly Film Bulletin, which isn't an absolutely clinching sign that it didn't get a commercial release in the early 1970s, but it does strongly point that way. Sight & Sound devoted three pages to it in the Autumn 1971 issue, but my collection doesn't go back that far so I can't check the context.

I'd be very surprised if a film with its reputation hadn't been screened at all in Britain prior to 2004, but the BBFC wouldn't have been interested if such screenings had only been in the form of, say, occasional airings at the French Institute.
It did come out in the 1970s in the UK with a different English over-dubbed track than the American version. I think the BBC might have done it so I'm not sure it played theatrically but I suspect it did.

Nothing
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 4:04 am

#14 Post by Nothing » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:54 pm

Depends what you want out of a documentary I guess. As I say, this serves it's purpose well as an investigative televisual piece. But it is not an artistic, theatrical experience in the manner of a Herzog documentary or Resnais' Night & Fog. Certainly I saw nothing to indicate that Marcel was qualified to be interferring with the Lola Montez restoration.

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jbeall
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:22 am
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Re: The Sorrow and the Pity (Marcel Ophüls, 1969)

#15 Post by jbeall » Thu Dec 11, 2014 12:44 pm

Marcel Ophuls Wants to Tell Israelis Some "Unpleasant Truths"

(Not posting to weigh in with political commentary; just didn't want to clutter the board and figured this was the best place to post the article.)

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