Issue 1 December 2010
The film La Rafle opened in Paris in March 2010 to great fanfare and public debate. As the title indicates, the subject is the round-up of Jews by French police on 16 July 1942, their incarceration at the Vel’ d’hiv, and subsequent deportation to the death camps. The film raises the issue, still troubling to the French, of the Vichy Regime’s participation in the Holocaust. Note that the same events are addressed in Sarah’s Key, based on Tatiana de Rosnay’s bestseller (2007), which opened in October 2010. Both films are highly accessible, intended for broad audiences, and in their own way, resolutely didactic. They are expected to open in North America and to become available on DVD, allowing for ready use in courses.
Crime, Terror & Sleuthing in Paris, 1889
Those interested in assigning novels on nineteenth-century Paris might be intrigued by a recent spate of mystery novels set during the Paris World’s Fair of 1889 and featuring the Eiffel Tower as the symbol for a troubled modernity. The novels hail from three continents and, each in its own quirky way, reminds us of the continued resonance of the Belle Epoque in the popular imaginary, a phenomenon that only mid-Victorian London appears to equal for aficionados of the nineteenth century.
Antonin’s Stories and Life and Nothing but
Two films, made over twenty-five years apart, engage with WWI through its invisible victims: the countless, nameless dead, and the shell-shocked, removed from sight. Both are set in the immediate post-war period when France had to come to terms with its traumatic impact. They explore conflicting influences that ranging from the nation-state to romantic love, from psychiatry to memory. We asked two historians to gauge the respective value of these films for the classroom.
Liana Vardi, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Howard G. Brown, Binghamton University, SUNY