One Man’s War (La Guerre d’un seul homme) by Edgardo Cozarinsky Argentina/France, 1981, 105 mins, B&W, In French with English subtitles
“A frightening descent into the garbage can of history” -New York Film Festival. “The basis of my film,” writes Argentine-born director Edgardo Cozarinsky, “is an idea of Walter Benjamin’s to write a book consisting entirely of quotations. I wanted to let quotations talk to each other, so that by the process of confrontation alone they would say more.” Juxtaposing German writer and army officer Ernst Jünger’s Paris Diaries, which describe German-occupied Paris, with French newsreel footage of the period, “Aryan” music by Hans Pfiltzner and Richard Strauss, and “degenerate” music by Arnold Schönberg and Franz Schreker, Cozarinsky creates a “documentary fiction,” finding each in the other. With this collage of quotations, he is concerned not with delineating a historically accurate portrait of the time, but rather with creating a sense of the web of lies, half-truths, and deceptions spun by both the mass media and private individuals.” –Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archive
Special thanks to Cindi Rowell.
Edgardo Cozarinsky was born in Buenos Aires in 1939. Writer and filmmaker, among his books are La novia de Odessa (2002), El rufián moldavo (2004) and Lejos de dónde (2009). Some of his films are One Man’s War (1982), Sunset Boulevards (1992), Le Violon de Rothschild (1996) and Night Watch (2005).
Robert O. Paxton is a Mellon Professor Emeritus of Social Science at Columbia University. He specializes in the social and political history of Modern Europe, particularly Vichy France during the World War II era. Paxton has worked on two issues within the general area of modern European history: France during the Nazi occupation of 1940-1944; and the rise and spread of fascism. He was the first in the 1960s and 1970s to establish, on the basis of German archives, the active collaboration of Vichy France within Hitler’s Europe, a finding received coolly at first in France and now largely accepted. He continues to speak, write, and research in these fields. In 2009 he served as guest curator for an exhibition at the New York Public Library entitled “Between Collaboration and Resistance: French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation.” He has published several books, including Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944 (2nd edition, 2001) and The Anatomy of Fascism (2004), and contributed to the liner notes for Criterion’s home video release of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows (1969). You can read his film essay on the Criterion Collection website.