Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hotel Terminus (1988)

Director: Marcel Ophuls

Starring: Klaus Barbie, Marcel Ophuls

More info: IMDb

Plot: Nazi Gestapo leader Klaus Barbie excelled at torture, earning him the epithet "the Butcher of Lyons." Through a series of interviews, this powerful Oscar-winning documentary explores the life of the infamous war criminal, beginning with his childhood and moving on to his career as an SS interrogator. After the war, Barbie spent 40 years in hiding, was eventually deported from Bolivia and, in 1987, stood trial for crimes against humanity.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Oh, yeah.

I first saw this on laserdisc a little over twenty years ago, again ten years ago on VHS and a few months ago on DVD. It's 267 minutes long (4.5 hours) and it's interesting and absorbing as hell. I dig documentaries on subjects like this. Ophuls interviews A LOT of people from the period who knew Barbie (on both sides of the war) and what they have to say isn't shocking to me but rewarding. Men who are labeled monsters are more effective when given a human side. The actions one takes can be evil but it's even more frightening when it turns out they regular, nice and intelligent people. That means anyone you know could have such atrocious qualities. You might think that giving up four and a half hours is a lot but you'll be captivated by what you see. It really does fly by and you'll be so proud of yourself that you made it...and loved it.

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