Friday 5 June 2020

Le Vieux Fusil (1974): Another Movie Castrated for the German Audience

"Le Vieux Fusil" ("The Old Gun") is an excellent example of post-war film censorship in Western Germany. For the Western German version, additional scenes were shot and included while extremely brutal scenes were cut, inhuman dialogues were modified and diluted. There, the film had the harmless title "Abschied in der Nacht". In Eastern Germany, however, the title was "Das alte Gewehr" and the film was shown in cinemas in an uncensored version. Only in 2007, was this uncensored version released to the German market.

In France, on the other hand, it was immediately awarded the César for Best Film, more awards and nominations followed, and it attracted rave reviews. Years later, it received the "César des Cèsars". In Germany, the portrayal of Nazis was not appreciated, since Germans felt they had been degradated to caricatures, cowards and brutal persons. The film should have shown "real enemies", and, besides, it was not a "real" anti-war film, too little analyses of violence and murder had been done while showing too much focus on "primitive suspense" and bloodthirsty effects (via and via). This reaction and description is highly interesting when considering that the massacre shown in the film had really taken place killing hundreds of people...
Among the many, many atrocities committed during World War Two, the events at one French village stand out. (via)
On 10th of June 1944, troops of the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division destroyed the village Oradour-sur-Glane in Nazi-occupied France killing 642 people within a few hours, among them 207 children, six of them less than six months old. More than 400 of them were herded into the village church which was soaked in petrol before being set on fire. Only seven villagers survived (via and via and via).

The SS men next proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She escaped through a rear sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child.[3] All three were shot, two of them fatally. Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. That night, the village was partially razed.
Several days later, the survivors were allowed to bury the 642 dead inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane who had been killed in just a few hours. (via)
The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, committed by German SS troops 75 years ago, remains a symbol of unimaginable inhumanity and horror, even today. We bow in shame and deep sadness before the victims and their families.
Michael Roth, Germany's Minister of State for Europe
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- images via and via

- Nazi massacre village Oradour-sur-Glane: Where ghosts must live on, The Guardian, link
- Oradour-sur-Glane: On the emergence of a glocal site of memory in France, ResearchGate, link
- The Oradour Massacre, European Journal, YouTube, link