Thursday, August 19, 2010

L'affaire Sacha Guitry (2007)

Watched this last night on TV and it was interesting. Sacha Guitry was a playwright and actor. Not many of his works I know, but I have watched La poison and like it very much. L'affair Sacha Guitry tells about the confinement of the playwright in 1944.

August 23, 1944, Sacha Guitry was arrested by several Resistance members in his home. They didn't give him time to change, so he was taken in his pyjamas, dressing gown, and slippers. When he was interrogated about a week later, they asked him if he knew why he was detained. He said he didn't know. He glimpsed at the document which stated that the reason was 'Unknown'.

Sacha Guitry learned that he was detained based on rumors. It was the dark time when one denounced their neighbours to save one's own skin. It was said that he placed the bust of Hilter in his theatre (actually it was the bust of his father) and gave a book to Marshal Pétain (he didn't know the marshal would become a traitor). The examining judge read to him the denouncing letters and Sacha Guitry proved to him each time that the letters were wrong. The judge didn't let him free that easy because the public had read in newspapers that he was a collaborator. It was not easy to convince his innocence to the public, especially if famous newspaper like Le Figaro also wrote about it. Being a successful playwright, people were jealous of him. Unfortunately for Sacha Guitry, one of his enemies was Le Figaro's journalist. The judge then put advertisements on newspapers, asking for more denouncing letters. Again, Sacha Guitry proved that the denouncing letters were wrong (that they didn't witness it firsthand) and that he hated the Germans, befriended the Jews, and loved France very much. He was sorry if he lived well during the occupation, but although he didn't raise arms, as a playwright he did what he could for France. What the judge did next? He didn't dare to make any decision, because although American soldiers had entered Paris, there was a rumor that German soldiers might be back, so what would the public said if they were to release a collaborator? He passed the case to another judge. Only in August 1947 the case was closed. Sacha Guitry determined to clear his name, but it wouldn't be easy.

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