Petain (1993)

Genres - Drama, Historical Film  |   Run Time - 132 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

The sorry story of the Vichy government of France from 1940 to 1945 is the subject of this thoughtful historical drama. In return for a swift surrender in 1940, the French government was allowed to retain, in Vichy an unoccupied portion of the country. There, at the Hotel du Parc, the government enacted and carried out its own decrees, which paralleled the Nazi persecution of Jews elsewhere. While the film itself simply tells its story in a straightforward manner that reviewers found quite creditable, it is remarkable for the fact that it was actually made and released. Why? Because it punctures the convenient illusions so many had constructed about the period, and reveals that far from being coerced into cooperating with the Germans, a large number (perhaps a majority) of Frenchmen were quite enthusiastic. In fact, the producer found it extremely difficult to get anyone to cooperate in making the film, and it took him over six years to bring together the resources to begin shooting.