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also known as L'oeil de Vichy

The Eye of Vichy1993

  • 4.0
THE EYE OF VICHY is a brilliantly chosen compilation of long forgotten film footage and newsreels produced by the Nazis and French collaborators during World War II. From the small town of Vichy in central France, Field Marshall Petain's puppet government worked with their Nazi overlords in creating pro-Nazi propaganda. Seeking to turn the tide of public emotion against both the Allied Forces and the Jews, they skillfully produced a strange alternative history of the war years that is shocking and grimly fascinating. French New Wave founder Claude Chabrol creates a masterful look at Nazis and media manipulation that is as engrossing as any of his thrillers.

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2 members like this review

This is really hard to review - it is stomach churning and fascinating like peering into a nest of spiders or snakes. Some of the Nazi propaganda seems entirely French and one of the worst segments involves French Hitler Youth reciting and singing Hitler's praises including "i live for Hitler and I will die for Hitler." Most of all however the traitors, turncoats and appeasers make their little marches and speeches throughout to give the illusion France is something besides Germany's bleeding victim. For me the most curious note is the part tacked on the end not from the occupied period of DeGaulle reciting a small speech about France, who it is, what it means, etc. Some of it sounds suspiciously like what came before it - and particularly the "patriotic" parts. Was this the idea behind using this specific film bit?

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (6)

759ca7e3cd20dc5a9cc2485d2902162a?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0074
top reviewer

This is really hard to review - it is stomach churning and fascinating like peering into a nest of spiders or snakes. Some of the Nazi propaganda seems entirely French and one of the worst segments involves French Hitler Youth reciting and singing Hitler's praises including "i live for Hitler and I will die for Hitler." Most of all however the traitors, turncoats and appeasers make their little marches and speeches throughout to give the illusion France is something besides Germany's bleeding victim. For me the most curious note is the part tacked on the end not from the occupied period of DeGaulle reciting a small speech about France, who it is, what it means, etc. Some of it sounds suspiciously like what came before it - and particularly the "patriotic" parts. Was this the idea behind using this specific film bit?

2 members like this review

I believe that was an excerpt from a speech given by then General

Charles de Gaulle at the liberation of Paris by partisans and the subsequent triumphal entry of Free-French troops.

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filmmaker

Ever wonder what our media landscape would be like if the Nazis won WWII? Thanks to Claude Chabrol's collection of stunning Vichy propaganda, we can see very concrete evidence of exactly where that would have started. In some disturbing ways, it is not all that different from the origins of our own media world.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Chilling and Troubling; troubling and chilling. This significant collage has become less about Vichy France than it is about Vichy America; particularly about Vichy America post 9/11. So many chilling, troubling reverberations from history in this cnn of the theatres: "new world order;" 'becoming one with Europe;' fighting Bolshevism;' "terrorists;" constant invocations of duty, order, sacrifice and 'normalcy' coupled to appeals for bogus "unity;" as well as the multi-pack Big Lies of the totalitarian, capitalist, militarist, Eugenicist Third Reich en francais. Soaring thetoric in this nbc of the theatres about an 'exceptional nation' and the seduction of the 'lesser of two evils' pervades and chills the spine. Note deGaulle's own soaring rhetoric at the end in which Paris was liberated by Parisians, not by the US and English sacrifice. Check out the massive 'new world order' map from the Pacific of China, Russia and Indochina to the Atlantic coast of France in this pbs/msnbc of the theatres. Interesting to see how the "Eastern Front" is reported (Vietnamistan, Iraq, Syria, Librya?) and how home-grown French fascism bubbles ominously to the surface, particularly Petain's own, enthusiastic deportations of immigrants -- I mean Jews -- well before Hitler ordered it. Troubling and chilling. Chilling and troubling. After watching The Eye of Vichy, tune in the eye of cbs or HBO, ESPN, C-SPAN, or and the shopping channel to see the same thing, but in living color and HD. God Bless America.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Enthralling because by letting these Vichy newsreels speak for themselves, the film allows the viewer to concretely experience that history is so morally clear and predetermined only in retrospect. Uncomfortable as it may be, these clips reflected the sympathies of millions: Stunned by catastrophic defeat, searching for scapegoats in a politically divided nation, looking for answers in older, idolized values and trusting as savior a familiar hero. Truth only shifted with alienation from the regime and the prospect of Axis defeat. With victory, De Gaulle championed the comforting myth of the united, near universal resistance to help rebuild France. I shiver imagining watching these clips before a matinee in wartime Lyon and having to decide how much was true. I hope my grandchildren never face similar horrific ambiguity.

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top reviewer

An extremely interesting documentary about the French Vichy Republic during the Nazi occupation of France. We get an inside look at the Vichy regime through extensive newsreel and archival footage. This film shows that not all the French were part of the anti-Nazi Resistance. The narrator is biased and calls all the newsreel footage "propaganda". It's propaganda only because the Nazi's lost WWII. Had they won, all the Vichy newsreel footage would be called an accurate account of history. The narrator says all the French men were "forced" to go to Germany to work in war production factories, but they all generally seemed happy to me.. Really, the narration in this film was more like "propaganda', than was the rest of the film. This film provides a very unique vantage point to observe the events of WWII Europe, and definitely shows that the Nazi's had a lot of support among the French people that they were occupying.

Did you miss the part about the labour draft? Both occupied and Vichy- France impressed labouers to meet Nazi quotas. While there was certainly a portion of french society that gave Petain and his anti-democrats support, ( for the most part the same portion of society that earlier was very fearful of Bolshevism), do you really mean yo suggest that France, by and large was happy in its defeat by the Nazis, that the French didn't mind giving up free speech, free elections, the right to travel and seek employment at will, to unionise? Petain's substitution of Order for liberte and a police state for Fraternite soon made very thin the tissue of his claimed paternal love for a defeated citizenry.

It is difficult to watch the defeat of a friend in wartime, and even more difficult to watch the clear evidence of the perversion of great society by failed leadership. Even before the war, the Catholic Right in France had a troubling anti-dem0cratic history and tendencies. That Petain's "government" played beyond the edges of Facism is beyond doubt. They are revealed by their own propaganda.

Director Claude Chabrol use Vichy's own propaganda in a manner to show not only the failings of Petain and his gangsters, but also of an anti-democratic segment of French society that existed well before the war. This film would be (I suspect) very nearly as powerful if the counter-rhetoric of its script were absent.