Friday, January 22, 2016

"La Rafle"

Last night this French film from 2011 was watched here.  It was an exceptionally well done story, based on larger facts about atrocities in Paris after the Nazis took over the city in 1940.  Usually films about German barbarism at that time do not focus on Paris.  In fact it is mostly the opposite in film and in books, with the theme almost always being about how normal Paris continued to operate, with their restaurants and nightclubs unfazed.  Brasserie Lipp, across Boulevard St. Germain from Deux Magots, became the busiest restaurant in the city with their giant steins of ice cold beer and their weiner snitzel, chocroute, sauerbraton,  sausages, and kartoffelsalat.  The German invaders enjoyed Paris and the control that  they exerted there.  Most Parisians did not enjoy the control but they adapted.

There are films and books remembered here about Nazi atrocities in Germany, in Warsaw, by their awful allied brownshirts in Vienna, and around the rest of Europe.  "La Rafle" tell the true story about Nazi atrocities in 1942 Paris.  Apparently at Hitler's direct order during his visits there, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood was systematically rounded up in the early morning hours, entire families,people were beaten and abused and then shipped off to the Paris hippodrome where they were held for days with little food or water.  Eventually they were shipped off to a concentration camp.

It seems that Hitler wanted to make a point to his elderly puppet Petain that he must be strict and show that he was strict by requiring the French police and army take care of this task.  That's the set up.  The acting was first-rate, at times exceptional, especially Jean Reno, and somehow the film had its bright points while ultimately being mostly heartbreaking.

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