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The Eye of Vichy

Where to Watch The Eye of Vichy

1993

The Eye of Vichy is a gripping and thought-provoking documentary that takes its audience back to the events of World War II, more specifically in Vichy France. Directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Claude Chabrol, the film was released in 1993 and features the voice talents of Michel Bouquet, Brian Cox, and Maquisard Alfonso.

The Eye of Vichy differs from conventional war documentaries, not through gory war scenes, but rather, through a compilation of newsreels, propaganda films, and a myriad of other historical footage that ran under the puppet state of Vichy France between 1940 and 1944. The goal of the documentary is to recreate the perspective of the time period using actual media of the era along with narration from the perspective of the collaborationist Vichy regime.

The film starts by setting the scene for the viewer, taking them back to the bleak days of Vichy France when the country was divided after the armistice with Nazi Germany in June 1940. The northern half was occupied by German troops while the southern half was governed by the French Vichy government, led by World War I hero Marshal Philippe Pétain.

Chabrol’s documentary skillfully uses the collaborations of the Vichy regime to exceptional effect. The film is filled with authentic film material broadcast by the state, which includes the likes of news reports, interviews, mini-documentaries, and religious sermons from the period. The use of these clips not only shows the extent of Nazi propaganda influence on French media but also the French society's response and reaction.

Michael Bouquet narrates from the Vichy viewpoint, illustrating how the Vichy administration sought to communicate with the French people, setting a tone of reassurance and conviction in their policies. Conversely, Brian Cox provides an English voice-over narrating the events from a modern perspective, ensuring historical context and clarity. This approach gives the audience a distinctly chilling glimpse into a society under the sway of the Nazi power.

In a uniquely artistic style, Chabrol does not use any modern visuals or commentary, instead, he solely relies upon historical source materials to build the narrative. This allows the audience to experience the period firsthand with original context and interpretations remaining intact. The historical footage encompasses various events in France during this time, ranging from the propagandistic promotional agenda of the Vichy state to glimpses of daily life and the underlying unrest.

The Eye of Vichy also sheds ample light on the anti-semitic inclinations and xenophobia that were ruthlessly embraced and promoted by the puppet government. There are numerous instances to showcase Vichy's foundational principles of 'Work, Family, and Fatherland,' a contrast to France's traditional slogan of 'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.'

Though it seems initially counterintuitive, this documentary musters commendable courage by presenting the events from the collaborator's point of view, a hitherto less-explored perspective. With the passing of time and through the lens of history, this acts as a stark reminder of the dark reality that many societies witnessed under Nazi Germany's dominance.

The Eye of Vichy is more than a film; it is a historical document that provides a powerful window into a critical juncture of French history. It tells the eerie story of a nation during a time when it was philosophically divided, grappling with its identity amidst pressure from the Nazis.

This documentary is sure to engage history enthusiasts, as well as cinema buffs looking for a unique take on the oft-explored subject of World War II. It opens the door to a different perspective, reminding us of the destructive power of propaganda and the ease with which it can manipulate societies into accepting unjust ideologies.

The Eye of Vichy serves as a unique historical document that tells a haunting tale of a time fraught with social, political, and ethical complexity. A film that both educates and challenges, it's an offering from Chabrol that is sure to engage, provoke thought, and resonate long after the credits have rolled.

The Eye of Vichy is a Documentary movie released in 1993. It has a runtime of 110. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.2..

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Where can I stream The Eye of Vichy movie online? The Eye of Vichy is available to watch and stream at Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel.

7.2/10
Director
Claude Chabrol
Stars
Michel Bouquet, Brian Cox
Also starring Michel Bouquet
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