Gaumont, La Cinematheque Francaise And The Film Foundation Partner To Restore L'ATALANTE By Jean Vigo

5/3/2017 12:00:00 AM

Gaumont, La Cinematheque Francaise, and Martin Scorsese’s non-profit organization, The Film Foundation, have collaborated for the first time to restore Jean Vigo’s masterpiece, L'ATALANTE. For this ambitious project, the partners enlisted scholar Bernard Eisenschitz, who had previously worked on two earlier restorations of L'ATALANTE. The director’s daughter, Luce Vigo, also provided invaluable assistance.

This is the first 4K digital restoration of the film and the goal was to stay true to the director’s original work, referencing vintage prints, earlier photochemical restorations and negatives. The restoration was carried out by L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna and Paris.

Thanks to the collaboration of numerous cinematheques (La Cinematheque Francaise, Cineteca Italiana in Milan, BFI National Film Archive, Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique) that loaned their prints, a frame-by-frame comparison from several different versions was completed to note scene variations. Using the edge codes, the film stocks were dated to choose the earliest and best version for the 4K scan.

The same workflow was utilized for the sound restoration; comparison of all the elements to obtain the best audio quality. It was especially important to respect the integrity of the original score by Maurice Jaubert.

With this restoration, Gaumont, Luce Vigo, who passed away on February 12th, and Bernard Eisenschitz, completed many years of research on the existing film material, writings, documents, and testimonies, always staying faithful to the intentions of Jean Vigo.

The restored version of L'ATALANTE, will be screened as part of this year’s Cannes Classics. In addition, Gaumont and The Film Foundation are joining forces to restore three other Vigo titles (ZERO DE CONDUITE, A PROPOS DE NICE, TARIS).


Cannes Classics 2017

5/3/2017 12:00:00 AM


The program of Cannes Classics 2017 will be dedicated for its most part to the history of the Festival.

Almost fifteen years ago, when the relationship between contemporary cinema and its own memory was about to be shaken by the emergent arrival of digital technology, the Festival de Cannes created Cannes Classics, a selection that displays the work of valorisation of heritage cinema carried out by the production companies, the right-holders, the cinematheques or the national archives around the world.

Being now an essential component of the Official Selection and a presence of the history of cinema which inspired several international festivals, Cannes Classics showcases vintage films and masterpieces of the history of cinema in restored prints.

Because Cannes is also devoted with the mission of enchanting the audience of today's relationship with the memory of cinema, Cannes Classics puts the prestige of the biggest festival of the world at the service of the cinema rediscovered, accompanying all the new exhibitions: releasing in movie theaters, on VOD or on DVD/Blu-ray editions of the great works of the past.

The program of the 2017 edition of Cannes Classics consists of twenty-four screenings, one short film and five documentaries. The films are screened as wanted by the right-holders, in DCP 2K or DCP 4K, and L'Atalante by Jean Vigo that Gaumont wished to screen in 35mm.

The films selected for this 2017 edition will focus mostly on the history of Cannes. They come from nations that have allowed the Festival de Cannes to become a land of cinematographic discoveries: Hungary, Lebanon, Serbia, United Kingdom, Italy, United States, Israel, Mauritania, Niger, Poland, Switzerland, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and Australia. Many countries which also consider that safeguarding heritage cinema is essential.

The films will be screened in the Palais des Festivals, Salle Buñuel or Salle du Soixantième, in attendance of those who have restored them and, if they are still among us, of those who have directed them.


From 1946 to 1992, from René Clément to Victor Erice, sixteen history-making films of the Festival de Cannes

•1946: La Bataille du Rail (Battle of the Rails) by René Clément (1h25, France): Grand Prix International de la mise en scène and Prix du Jury International.

Presented by Ina. Film digitized and restored by Ina with the support of the CNC. 2K restoration made from an acetate interpositive and an answer print. Technical means: Jean-Pierre Peltier. Coordination: Bénilde Da Ponte, Brice Amouroux.

•1953: Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) by Henri-Georges Clouzot (1952, 2h33, France, Italy): Grand Prix.

Presented by TF1 Studio in collaboration with la Cinémathèque française and the support of the CNC, of the Archives audiovisuelles de Monaco, of Kodak and the CGR cinémas. 4K Restoration from nitrate image negative and a sound duplicate made by Hiventy. Please note that this presentation is the preview of a major Clouzot event scheduled in France in the fall of 2017.

•1956: Körhinta (Merry-Go-Round/Un petit carrousel de fête) by Zoltán Fábri (1955, 1h30, Hungary): in Competition.

Presented by the Hungarian National Film Fund - Hungarian National Film Archive. A 4K Scan and Digital Restoration from the original 35mm image & sound negatives plus additional materials: the original dupe positive and another film positive. Restoration made by the Hungarian National Film Fund – Hungarian Filmlab.

•1957: Ila Ayn? (Vers l'inconnu ?) by Georges Nasser (1h30, Lebanon): in Competition.

Presented by Abbout Productions and Fondation Liban Cinema. With the generous support of Bankmed – Lebanon. The original 35mm Fine Grain Master Positive was scanned in 4k, retouched and color-corrected in a resolution of 2K. All works were carried out by Neyrac Films - France. Sound restoration by db Studios - Lebanon. In collaboration with The Talkies. World Sales: Nadi Lekol Nas.

•1967: Skupljači Perja (I Even Met Happy Gypsies/J'ai même rencontré des Tziganes heureux) by Aleksandar Petrović (1h34, Serbia): in Competition, Grand Prix Spécial du Jury ex-æquo, Prix de la Critique Internationale - F.I.P.R.E.S.C.I. ex-æquo.

Presented by Jugoslovenska Kinoteka/The Yugoslav Film Archive and Malavida.

New 35mm print from the original negative in perfect shape then scanned in 2K and cleaned up.

•1967: Blow-up by Michelangelo Antonioni (1966, 1h51, United Kingdom, Italy, United States of America): Grand Prix International du Festival.

Presented by Criterion, Cineteca di Bologna and Istituto Luce - Cinecittà, in collaboration with Warner Bros and Park Circus. Restoration work carried out at Criterion, New York and L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna under the supervision of Director of Photography Luca Bigazzi.

•1969: Matzor (Siege/Siège) by Gilberto Tofano (1h29, Israel): in Competition.

A presentation of the Jerusalem Cinematheque – Israel Film Archive, in partnership with United King Films and the support of the Rabinovich Foundation. The original 35mm black and white negatives were scanned in 4K by Cinelab Romania. It was digitally restored and finalized in 2K by Opus Digital Lab in Tel Aviv. Restoration and color grading lead by Ido Karilla, supervised by DOP David Gurfinkel.

•1970: Soleil O (Oh, Sun) by Med Hondo (1h38, Mauritania, France): Semaine de la critique.

Presented by The Film Foundation. Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in collaboration with Med Hondo. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation's World Cinema Project.

•1976: Babatu, les trois conseils by Jean Rouch (1h33, Niger, France): in Competition.

Presented by the CNC, Inoussa Ousseini, the Comité du film ethnographique and the Fondation Jean Rouch. Digital restoration made from the 2K digitization of the 16mm negatives. Restoration carried out by L21.

•1976: Ai no korîda (In the Realm of the Senses/L’Empire des sens) de Nagisa Oshima (1h43, France, Japon): Quinzaine des Réalisateurs.

Presented by Argos Films and TAMASA. Digization and 4K resoration from the original negative by Eclair. Sound restoration from the original magnetic sound by L.E. Diapason. The film will be released in French theaters.

•1980: All that Jazz (Que le spectacle commence) by Bob Fosse (1979, 2h03, United States of America): Palme d’or ex-æquo.

Presented by Park Circus. 4K restoration by Twentieth Century Fox and the Academy Film Archive in collaboration with The Film Foundation. The restoration was produced from the original camera negative at Sony Colorworks in Culver City California.

•1981: Człowiek z żelaza (Man of Iron/L’Homme de fer) by Andrzej Wajda (2h33, Poland): Palme d’or.

A presentation of the ZEBRA Film Studio (Studio Filmowe ZEBRA) with the collaboration of the Polish Film Institute. 2K film restoration from original colour 35 mm negative. Restored sound from original magnetic tape. Restoration lead by Daniel Pietrzyk, colour grading lead by Aleksandra Kraus, at Yakumama Film, Warsaw. Sound restoration lead by Tomasz Dukszta.

Artistic supervision by: Andrzej Wajda (director), Jerzy Łukaszewicz (DOP), Piotr Zawadzki (sound).

•1982: Yol – The Full Version (The Way/La Permission) by Yilmaz Güney, directed by Serif Gören (1h53, Switzerland): Palme d'or ex-æquo à l’unanimité, Prix de la Critique Internationale – FIPRESCI.

Presented by DFK FILMS LTD. Zürich. Restoration from the original 35mm negative, from the interpositive and the positive print. Restoration and new sound mix from the original digitized tapes. International Sales: The Match Factory.

•1983: Narayama Bushikō (Ballad of Narayama/La Ballade de Narayama) by Shôhei Imamura (2h13, Japan): Palme d’or.

Presented by Toei. 4K Scan, image restoration ARRISCAN and sound Golden Eye in 2K from the 35mm original negative, a duplicate and video tapes.

•1992: El sol del membrillo (Le Songe de la lumière) by Victor Erice (2h20, Spain): Prix du Jury ex-æquo, Prix de la Critique Internationale - FIPRESCI

Presented by the Filmoteca de Catalunya and Camm Cinco SL. 6K scan, restoration and color-grading from the 35mm negatives and other original video tapes. Digitazing and sound restoration from 35mm magnetic tapes. Technical support made by the Filmoteca de Catalunya, supervised by Victor Erice. Variations on the initial editing brought by the director.

•1951-1999: A short history of short films presented by the Festival de Cannes. A program curated by Christian Jeune and Jacques Kermabon.

Spiegel van Holland (Miroirs de Hollande) by Bert Haanstra (1951, 10mn, The Netherlands) / La Seine a rencontré Paris by Joris Ivens (1958, 32mn, France) / Pas de deux by Norman McLaren (1968, 13mn, Canada) / Harpya by Raoul Servais (1979, 9mn, Belgium) / Peel by Jane Campion (1986, 9mn, Australia) / L’Interview by Xavier Giannoli (1998, 15mn, France) / When the Day Breaks by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby (1999, 10mn, Canada)


Madame de… by Max Ophüls (1953, 1h45, France)

A Gaumont restoration. A show to pay a tribute to Danielle Darrieux for her birthday and presented by Dominique Besnehard, Pierre Murat and Henri-Jean Servat who will screen the latest filmed interview of Danielle Darrieux.


L’Atalante by Jean Vigo (1934, 1h28, France), restored 35mm print

Presented by Gaumont, la Cinémathèque française and The Film Foundation of Martin Scorsese. First digital restoration in 4k and conversion to a 35mm print. A new discovery of the closest version of the director’s work thanks to Gaumont, Luce Vigo and historian Bernard Eisenschitz. Restoration carried out at L’Image Retrouvée laboratory in Bologna and Paris.


Native Son (Sang noir) by Pierre Chenal (1951, 1h47, Argentina)

A presentation by Argentina Sono Film. Restoration with the collaboration of the Library of Congress.


Paparazzi by Jacques Rozier (1963, 18mn, France)

Presented by Jacques Rozier and la Cinémathèque française. 4K Digitization and 2K restoration works made from image and sound negatives at Hiventy laboratory, with the support of the CNC and in collaboration with Les Archives Audiovisuelles de Monaco, la Cinémathèque Suisse and Extérieur nuit.

The film will be introduced by Jacques Rozier.


Belle de jour (Beauty of the Day) by Luis Buñuel (1967, 1h40, France)

Presented by STUDIOCANAL. Digitization from the original negative and 4K restoration carried out by Hiventy laboratory for STUDIOCANAL with the support of the CNC, of la Cinémathèque française, of the Fonds Culturel Franco-Américain and the Maison YVES SAINT LAURENT. French theater distribution: Carlotta.


A River Runs Through It (Et au milieu coule une rivière) by Robert Redford (1992, 2h04, United States of America)

Presented by Pathé. 4K Scan and 4K restoration from original image and sound 35mm negatives. Restoration carried out by Pathé at Technicolor France laboratory for the image in collaboration with Philippe Rousselot, cinematographer of the film, and L.E. Diapason for the sound restoration.


Lucía by Humberto Solas (1968, 2h40, Cuba)

A presentation of the Film Foundation. Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). Restoration funded by Turner Classic Movies and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.





The history of cinema by cinema itself, a presentation of five documentaries

La belge histoire du festival de Cannes (The Belgian's Road to Cannes) by Henri de Gerlache (2017, 1h02, Belgium)

Presented by Alizé Production. Produced by Alizé Production, co-produced by RTBF (Belgian television) & Proximus.

A joyful road movie to discover the Belgian cinema which has been at Cannes for 70 years. The filmmakers of yesterday are talking with those of today to paint a picture of a free and heterogeneous cinema. A "Belgian story" of the biggest festival in the world.

David Stratton - A Cinematic Life by Sally Aitken (2017, 1h37, Australia)

Presented by Stranger Than Fiction Films. Produced by Stranger Than Fiction Films, with Screen Australia, ABC TV Arts, Screen NSW and Adelaide Film Festival.

An love adventure of film critic David Stratton with his adopted country, Australia, which led him to understand himself. It is also the glorious history of Australian cinema and its creators told by this Cannes-regular film-lover interested in the world.

Filmworker by Tony Zierra (2017, 1h29, United States of America)

Presented and produced by True Studio Cinema.

Young actor Leon Vitali abandoned his prosperous career after Barry Lyndon to become the faithful right hand of director Stanley Kubrick. For more than two decades, Leon has played a crucial role behind the scenes by helping Kubrick. A complex and interdependent relationship between Leon and Kubrick based on devotion, sacrifice and the harsh and joyful reality of creative process.

Becoming Cary Grant (Cary Grant - De l'autre côté du miroir) by Mark Kidel (2017, 1h25, France)

Presented by ARTE France and Showtime Documentary Films. Produced by YUZU Productions, coproduced by ARTE France, in association with ro*co films productions.

Cary Grant is one of the biggest Hollywood actors. In his fifties, he started a cure of LSD to free himself from his demons. For the first time, with his words, he retraces his journey. The story of a man in search of himself and the love he did not find in his life. The words of Cary Grant are interpreted by Jonathan Pryce.

Jean Douchet, l'enfant agité by Fabien Hagège, Guillaume Namur, Vincent Haasser (2017, 1h30, France)

Presented and produced by Carlotta and Kidam.

Three young cinephiles follow Jean Douchet, question his friends and former students. This documentary reveals the man and his critical philosophy, a part of the history of the Cahiers du Cinéma and this Art of loving to which he has devoted his existence.





Richard Brody

4/24/2017 12:00:00 AM

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Leo Hurwitz’s 1948 film, “Strange Victory” (which I discuss in this clip), makes the notion of memory its very subject. Hurwitz’s idea is simple, brilliant, and painful: he compares the systematic racism that motivated the Nazi regime, which the United States had just helped to defeat, with the systematic racism that was still in force in the United States. His subject isn’t hypocrisy or even political legitimacy; it’s states of mind. His condensed and abstracted essay-like film (which runs a mere hour and eleven minutes) shows—with a collage of archival footage and press clippings, live-action hidden-camera sequences, and even dramatic reconstructions—that the state of mind that gave rise to Germany’s persecution and attempted extermination of Europe’s Jews had also spawned, and was continuing to enable, Jim Crow laws and racial and religious discrimination in the United States.

What’s more, Hurwitz—while looking in angrily practical detail at the ongoing ways and practices of American racism—also looks at Americans who are neither victims nor overt perpetrators of racism, in order to consider their own state of mind. He considers the traumas of returning veterans and suggests that they themselves have witnessed and endured ineffable horrors that—upon their return—aren’t even mitigated by the uninhibited sense of triumph, precisely because of the ongoing racism of American life. (He also considers the bitter experience of black military veterans returning home to face discrimination.) Hurwitz observes the faces of passers-by and—more than a decade ahead of Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s similar investigation, in the seminal cinéma-vérité film “Chronicle of a Summer,” from 1960—considers that their open sense of bewilderment and misery is a result of their repressed and maybe even undiagnosed political contradictions. Like Rouch and Morin, Hurwitz bears witness to political neurosis from the repression of history. Yet for Hurwitz, the act of memory itself is no redemption; in the absence of drastic political change, it is, paradoxically, a further source of derangement and crisis.

A quarter century later, memory of the Holocaust was all the more repressed, and, during a time of new social conflicts, Marcel Ophüls filmed “The Memory of Justice,” centered on the postwar Nuremberg trials, their revelations, and their effect on subsequent generations. (That film, which will première today on HBO 2, in a new restoration, was nearly lost, and the story of its rescue is as dramatic as a movie.) Like Hurwitz, Ophüls filmed the very question of the memory of the Holocaust in relation to the political crises of the present time. The first part of the film, called “Nuremberg and the Germans,” focusses on denial—on the denial, at the Nuremberg trials, of responsibility on the part of officials, most of whom were in fact convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and on the ongoing denial by many Germans, at the time of the filming, of responsibility for the crimes committed by Germans under the Nazi regime. The second part, “Nuremberg and Other Places,” places accounts of the trial and punishment of Nazi officials alongside stories of the liberation of many former Nazis in the early nineteen-fifties, when West Germany was rearming to meet Soviet threats. It also discusses the bombing of Dresden and Hamburg by the United States, as well as the use of atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the American conduct of the war in Vietnam, and the failure to prosecute high military or civil officials for war crimes; the French practice of torture in Algeria; the massacre of Native Americans at Wounded Knee; and the Katyn massacre of thousands of Polish officers, officials, and civic leaders by the Soviet Union, in 1940.

Ophüls’s method is that of an elaborate montage of associations and overlaps, linking archival footage with dozens of interviews that he conducts—and, occasionally, with his own presence onscreen, as when he features discussions with his wife (who is a non-Jewish German woman) and students in his 1974 seminar at Princeton University. Many of the interviews pack great emotional power, as when Ophüls speaks with relatives of young men who died fighting in Vietnam, with young Germans struggling with the country’s past, with a woman who was arrested for her involvement with the French Resistance and sent to Auschwitz. The connection of the interviews to the evidence of the historical record is sometimes illuminating and sometimes paradoxical; sometimes the past reveals present-day illusions, sometimes new recognitions shed light on old mysteries.

Ophüls is a liberal ironist whose challenging investigation of the historical record and present-day attitudes serves, especially, to undercut certainties, to foster a constructive skepticism regarding ideological verities and formulaic affirmations. His connection of the Nuremberg trials to the atrocities of Vietnam isn’t itself a facile equation (though one of his interviewees, Daniel Ellsberg, comes close to suggesting that it is), it’s a resonance, an admonition, an elegy. Ophüls is passionately devoted to recovering the memory of injustice, and there’s a hint of personal crisis that runs through the movie as well—the question, directed toward himself, of what purpose recovered memory of past horrors may serve. The movie itself suggests an answer: perhaps very little, if they don’t serve the cause of those who are trying to prevent other injustices and atrocities in the present day.

This very quality, however, is also the source of the film’s weaknesses. Driven by his own passion, his own empathy, his own sense of responsibility, Ophüls approaches his subject with a focussed precision that stays close to the subject at hand. His very subject is the development and orientation of knowledge, and he sees straight to the essence of his footage and sets its substance into motion. But even though he appears occasionally on-camera, there isn’t much of an existential or dramatic component to his own investigation. The movie’s main subject is the knowledge that’s gathered, not the process of gathering it. In showing how knowledge of the Holocaust and the trial of its perpetrators has been instrumentalized, Ophüls sometimes gives a sense of instrumentalizing that knowledge himself—as if the very notion of recovering long-overlooked information about the Holocaust was an activity that needed to be justified.

Yet that notion may have arisen from the strange and difficult circumstances under which Ophüls was working. He made “The Memory of Justice” in a virtual void, at a time when movies had done no serious investigation into the history of the Holocaust (Alain Resnais’s short film “Night and Fog” was from 1955). The very nature of his project was audacious (and his original producers actually felt that he included too much about the Holocaust in the film). Ophüls created his technique along with his research, a documentary method that was unified with a political vision—and that’s why his method (which he first developed in his 1969 film “The Sorrow and the Pity”) is indeed a method, one of the fundamental templates for modern documentary filmmaking. (Ezra Edelman’s “O. J.: Made in America” is an example of a film that’s an exemplary descendant of Ophüls’s work.)

It’s yet another irony of history that, at the very time that Ophüls made this monumental film, Claude Lanzmann was beginning work on the project that would ultimately become “Shoah.” It wasn’t completed until 1985, but it did what “The Memory of Justice” didn’t: it approached the Holocaust with an absolute directness, accepting fully the impossibility of showing the unshowable and filming the unfilmable. Deflecting historiography in quest of an impossible experience, making his own quest for that experience the very essence of the film, Lanzmann developed an aesthetic that belongs solely to the subject itself. The moderation, the curiosity, the practical political concerns that inhabit “The Memory of Justice” make it seem much nearer at hand than Lanzmann’s film, which is unassimilable, incommensurable—and definitive.

Both films, Lanzmann’s and Ophüls’s, however, stand in a crucial, albeit indirect, relationship to “Strange Victory.” Hurwitz’s fundamental connection of Holocaust consciousness with the civil rights of Americans—especially those of black Americans—is borne out by the course of historiography, especially on film. One of the essential developments of the civil-rights movement is the recovery of black history, the recognition and affirmation that there isn’t just one American mainstream and one American history but that each ethnic group has a history, and one that, for the most part, fell outside the traditional, imposed national narratives that depended on silence and lies. The readiness of Jews—both in the United States and in Europe—to face the history of the Holocaust without fear and without shame is, I think, one of the many progressive results of the American civil-rights movement. Hurwitz’s prescience isn’t only a matter of politics but of the imaginative freedom of mental life.


Marcel Ophuls’s ‘Memory of Justice, ’ No Longer Just a Memory

Mike Hale

4/21/2017 12:00:00 AM

Marcel Ophuls says that “The Memory of Justice” is his best movie. This catches your attention, given that another movie he directed, “The Sorrow and the Pity,” might be the best documentary ever made.

“I think it’s the most personal and sincere work I’ve ever done,” he said recently about “The Memory of Justice,” a four­and­a­half­hour examination of war crimes and guilt from 1976 that focused on the Nuremberg trials and the Vietnam War. “And it disappeared.”

The film’s history is a drama in itself, part thriller, part tragedy. It involves an American Army base, the late­night pilfering of film canisters, a screening that left Mike Nichols in tears and a fatal review. The long final act ends in redemption at the hands of Martin Scorsese (among others) and includes the film’s long­delayed television premiere, on HBO2 on Monday, April 24.

This is the story according to the 89-­year- old Mr. Ophuls, anyway, and he tells it — by phone recently from his home in Southern France — very convincingly, with frequent bouts of wheezing laughter.

The son of Max Ophuls, the great German director of romantic melodramas (“La Ronde”), Mr. Ophuls tried fiction filmmaking with mixed results and moved into nonfiction to find work. “It all has to do with groceries,” he said. “Not so much with cinema.”

The need to put groceries on the table eventually resulted in “The Sorrow and the Pity,” the hugely influential 1971 film about collaboration in Vichy France. A few years later Mr. Ophuls learned that 50 hours of raw footage of the Nuremberg trials, shot by the United States Army Signal Corps, were stored at a Maryland base. He gained access and started viewing the reels, which had to be hand-­rolled. Every so often he broke the film, irritating his Army minders.

The documentary he made using that footage was wide­-ranging and open-ended, not just a history of the trials, though it incorporated that. Tackling the questions of national and individual culpability and guilt, Mr. Ophuls interviewed American conscientious objectors and whistle­blowers (like Daniel Ellsberg), French veterans of Algeria and many Germans, from surviving Nuremberg defendants like Albert Speer to college students born after the war. He also put himself in the movie. With his family, and again with his film students at Princeton, he discussed the documentary’s themes and posed questions to his wife, the daughter of a German veteran.

Not all of the producers, a mix of British and German backers, were happy with the results. There were complaints about the film’s length and some brief nudity, Mr. Ophuls said, and requests that more focus be put on Russian actions during World War II and American actions in Vietnam. With the editing nearly complete, an acrimonious meeting at the Ritz bar in London resulted — depending on whose account you believe — in Mr. Ophuls either being fired (his version) or walking away.

Barred from his own project, he retreated to Princeton. But then the plot turned. Two women who had worked on the film with him hid in the restroom of the London editing suite and sneaked away with a black­and­white work print of his original edit.

It made its way to New York, where supporters — including Hamilton Fish, the future publisher and social activist, then a recent Harvard graduate — screened it for other filmmakers and critics, including Frank Rich and David Denby. Mr. Denby wrote an article about the situation in 1975 for The New York Times. Mr. Nichols sat motionless for eight hours (with reel changes) and then said to Mr. Fish, ‘So what can I do?’”

With endorsements like that, and the financial backing of Paramount, Mr. Fish was able to negotiate Mr. Ophuls’s return and to see that the film was completed the way its director wished. “An injury had been done to something of great cultural and historical significance,” Mr. Fish said in a recent interview. But it had been healed.

“The Memory of Justice” played at the 1976 Cannes and New York film festivals and received good reviews, including raves from Mr. Rich in The New York Post and Vincent Canby in The Times. But Pauline Kael, a champion of “The Sorrow and the Pity” and the most influential film critic of the time, panned the documentary in The New Yorker. “Striving for complexity,” she wrote, “Ophuls extended his inquiry in so many directions he lost his subject.”

“Who else could get the people to see a five-­hour documentary?” Mr. Ophuls said. “It folded after six or seven weeks and hasn’t been heard since.”

Mr. Fish, as a producer, saw things differently — he said that for a film of its type, in the days before specialty distributors had taken off, the commercial release was successful, and he discounted the influence of Kael’s review. But he agreed that “The Memory of Justice” faded out of sight after 1976. “It just was too difficult to keep in play,” he said.

But Mr. Fish never stopped trying. He got grants, including several from Steven Spielberg, to finance efforts over the years to reintroduce the film. Finally he connected with The Film Foundation, the preservation organization whose founders include Mr. Scorsese. It spearheaded a 10-­year restoration process that has brought “The Memory of Justice” back from the dead once more.

“Tragically enough, both of the epic 20th-­century subjects tackled definitively by Ophuls, Vichy and Nuremberg, remain as pertinent, if not more pertinent, than ever,” said Mr. Rich, a former New York Times columnist who is now a creative consultant at HBO. “The restoration could not be more aptly timed, and I imagine it will come as a revelation to viewers not yet born during its first meager release.”

If enough people see “The Memory of Justice” this time, it might mean that Mr. Ophuls will no longer be known in America largely through Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall,” in which Alvy and Annie stand in line to see “The Sorrow and the Pity.” But if not, Mr. Ophuls won’t be too concerned.

“Oh, I love it,” he said of his indirect contribution to “Annie Hall.” “I think it’s terrifically funny. I know it more or less by heart.” And then he recited several lines of dialogue involving “The Sorrow and the Pity,” correct down to the reference to a Bloomingdale’s charge card.

“I got a letter from Woody Allen thanking me and saying that he would treat the film with great respect etc. etc., which I really didn’t ask for,” Mr. Ophuls recalled. “Who cares if the film is treated with respect? Why should it be?”



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