The Sorrow and the Pity

Watch The Sorrow and the Pity

"Chronicle of a French City under the Occupation"
  • PG
  • 1971
  • 4 hr 11 min
  • 8.2  (4,067)

The Sorrow and the Pity is a powerful documentary film from 1969 that offers a deeply personal and intimate look at one of the most tumultuous periods in European history - World War II. Directed by Marcel Ophüls and narrated by Helmut Tausend, the film uses archival footage, interviews, and personal accounts to explore the experiences of both French and German citizens during the war.

The film is divided into two parts, each roughly two hours long. The first part, "The Collapse," focuses on the period leading up to Germany's invasion of France in 1940. It examines the factors that led to France's defeat, including military incompetence, political disunity, and a sense of complacency among the French people. Through interviews with politicians, journalists, and ordinary citizens who lived through the occupation, the film offers a nuanced and deeply moving portrait of life under Nazi rule. We hear about the humiliation and fear experienced by the French people, as well as the acts of resistance and bravery that arose in response to their oppression.

The second part of the film, "The Choice," explores the complex moral and political issues surrounding the French resistance. The film examines the role of collaboration in allowing the Nazi regime to gain footholds in France, as well as the difficult choices faced by those who chose to resist. Through interviews with resistance fighters, collaborators, and ordinary citizens who witnessed these events, the film provides a nuanced and complex exploration of the social and political landscape of occupied France.

One of the most remarkable things about The Sorrow and the Pity is its willingness to confront the uncomfortable truths of the war years head on. The film is unflinching in its depiction of the moral complexities faced by both French and German citizens during this time. It shows us the dark underbelly of a society at war, where fear, desperation, and betrayal are never far from the surface. But it also celebrates the resilience, courage, and creativity of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity.

The film's director, Marcel Ophüls, takes a refreshingly personal approach to his subject matter, allowing the people he interviews to speak for themselves in their own words. He gives voice to a wide range of perspectives, from high-ranking German officers who served in France to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. This diversity of voices creates a rich and complex narrative that is never simplistic or one-sided.

One of the most striking things about The Sorrow and the Pity is the way in which it captures the human stories behind the historical events it depicts. The film is full of small and poignant moments - a Frenchman remembering a childhood friend who was killed by Germans, a German officer reflecting on the moral dilemmas he faced during the war - that serve to humanize both the victims and perpetrators of the conflict. Through these stories, we see how the war affected individuals and families in profound and lasting ways.

Overall, The Sorrow and the Pity is an essential work of historical filmmaking that offers a powerful and moving insight into one of the darkest periods of European history. Its masterful blend of personal testimony, archival footage, and historical analysis create a deeply affecting portrait of a society in crisis, and remind us of the importance of understanding - and reckoning with - the complex legacies of the past.

The Sorrow and the Pity is a 1971 documentary with a runtime of 4 hours and 11 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 8.2.

The Sorrow and the Pity
Where to Watch The Sorrow and the Pity
The Sorrow and the Pity is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV and Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent The Sorrow and the Pity for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    4 hr 11 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    8.2  (4,067)