Dir. Volker Schlöndorff, 2014, 84 min, Color and B&W
With Niels Arestrup, André Dussollier, Burghart Klaußner
In French and German with English subtitles
As the Allies march toward Paris in the summer of 1944, Hitler gives orders that if the French capital should fall into enemy hands, then ‘only as a field of rubble.’ The person assigned to carry out this barbaric act is Wehrmacht commander of Greater Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, who has planted mines at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and on the bridges over the Seine. According to plans, nothing will be left of the city’s former glory. However, at dawn on August 25, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling slips into German headquarters through a secret underground tunnel and starts a tension-filled game of cat and mouse as he tries to persuade Choltitz to abandon his plan.
“Here is an intelligent, low-key late work from German director Volker Schlöndorff (who began his film- making career in France as assistant to Louis Malle) that tackles a subject of great moment to French and Germans alike: the decision by the Nazi governor not to destroy Paris at the end of the second world war, as the Allied powers close in.” — The Guardian