- MY ENEMY’S ENEMY
(director/writer: Kevin Macdonald; cinematographer: Jean-Luc Perréard; editor: Nicolas Chaudeurge; music: Alex Heffes; cast: Andre Dussolier (Narrator), Robert Taylor (American Counter Intelligence officer), Kai Hermann (German journalist);Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Rita Dagher/Kevin Macdonald; Weinstein Company, The; 2007-France/UK-in Spanish, German, & French with English subtitles and in English)
“Informative and compelling documentary.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Kevin Macdonald (“One Day in September”/”The Last King of Scotland”/”Touching The Void”) directs this informative and compelling documentary on the infamous World War II Nazi war criminal, Klaus Barbie, who was nicknamed The Butcher of Lyon. The monster earned that name in occupied France in Lyon, where he tortured to death during the war the Resistance leader Jean Moulin and arrested 44 Jewish children in an orphanage in 1944 (The children were later exterminated in Auschwitz) and was responsible for the deaths of at least a hundred others.
Macdonald doesn’t dwell on Barbie’s inhuman wartime crimes alone, but follows how the Butcher evaded capture for forty years after the war thanks to the U.S. government giving him cover with an alias, helping him to relocate to South America and hiring him to work for American Intelligence. He provided info on key Communists (he got info that helped in the arrest of CheGuevara). The Americans, such as CIA head Allen Dulles, believed the commies were a greater threat than the Nazis and secretly had at least 100 war criminals on the payroll to help them fight their war on Communism. They took on Barbie even though they knew he was despicable and was wanted in France as a war criminal. Macdonald shows a repugnance to both Barbie and to the U.S. government for supporting such an immoral program using unrepentant Nazis during the Cold War and being hypocritical about its belief in democracy.
Barbie was finally captured in 1987 in Bolivia (he had been living there since 1957 and it took a new left-wing government to act). The elderly sadist went on trial in France. When asked at his trial if he had anything to say in his defense, Barbie replied “I fought the Resistance, that I respect, harshly, but it was war and the war is over. Thank you.” The Butcher was then sentenced to life in prison. He died in 1991 in prison from cancer.
The film has interviews (historians, Intelligence operatives and journalists) and archival footage of Barbie from the war and from the time when he was protected by the CIA. There’s a journalist who asks Barbie’s smug daughter Ute Messner, in denial that her father is a monster, how she feels being the daughter of a man who is commonly referred to as The Butcher of Lyon. She replies “that butchers may be upset by that association, since butchering is an honest profession.” She ends the interview by saying that her father was “a kind and peaceful man.”
REVIEWED ON 3/17/2010 GRADE: B+