The Sorrow and the Pity is a documentary, initially released in 1969, which focusses on the relationship between France and Germany during the Second World War, specifically the Nazi occupation of the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. However, that’s not what this review is very much about.
I think it’s time to come clean: I’m not a documentary guy. I’ve seen very few, and liked even less. To date, the only documentary I’ve watched that I have any inclination to see again is King of Kong, because fuck Billy Mitchell. I’ve seen Hoop Dreams – it’s OK, but I forgot a lot of it within a week, hence why I never got around to reviewing it for the 1001 Movies list, and thus why I’ll therefore have to watch it again eventually. Night and Fog and Land Without Bread both left me severely depressed, and were both reviewed during a period of my blogging life where I hadn’t quite worked out what I was doing yet, which should go some way to explain the 1/10 scores I gave them (although I kind of stand by that for Land Without Bread, because Luis Bunuel is an utter dick for what he did in order to make that film). Shoah moved me, but the 9 hour running time was almost unbearable. And so it is that on my list of Least Anticipated Movies on the 1001 List I have not one but two long-ass documentaries, with Hotel Terminus being neatly packaged with the similarly 4 1/2 hours long The Sorrow and The Pity, which I look forward to watching later this year. I don’t really know why I’m not a huge fan of documentaries – maybe I’m just not intelligent or receptive enough for them. I’ve had debates with colleagues before as to whether they can really be classed as films of not – I’m fine with the classification, but it seems many others are not – but that hasn’t stopped there being an awful lot included in the 1001 book. Continue reading