Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie

Director: Marcel Ophüls
Year Released: 1988
Rating: 3.0

In-depth follow-up to Ophüls' landmark film about the French Resistance, The Sorrow and the Pity, has him doing some investigative journalism to find out how Nazi Klaus Barbie was able to ravage France and then scurry away to Bolivia under the protection of the United States (in order to fight Communism, hardy har har). At four-and-a-half hours, the respected Ophüls has no shortage of footage, including more interviews with members of the French Resistance (Barbie tortured Resistance great Jean Moulin), politicians, former friends and associates of Barbie, former CIC members, poets and filmmakers (the generally grouchy Claude Lanzmann appears briefly) and even Barbie's lawyer, the infamous (and hammy) Jacques Vergès. It does tread on some of the territory he established in The Sorrow and the Pity, but the tone is different: here Ophüls is confrontational and sarcastic, disgusted with the standard defense of some of his interviewees that the dealings with Barbie took place "40 years ago" and "hard to remember the facts," so what he's personally at War against is Memory Itself, not to mention Denial Itself. It's a bitter and angry film - and yes, a little scattered (I imagine editing this out of over 100 hours of interview footage was a nightmare) - but important and very sad: Ophüls the gadfly is talking for those who were long silenced by hate and indifference.