The Statement (5/10)
Copyright © 2003 by
Last year Michael
Caineís schtick was the anti-American The Quiet American, which
blamed everything that happened in Vietnam prior to the fall of Dien
Bien Phu, on the United States, even though that was Franceís war and
there were very few Americans in Vietnam. This year itís The
Statement, which is virulently anti-Catholic.
After the Nazis
conquered France, France was divided into two parts.
One part, headquartered in Paris, was governed by the Nazis. The
other, headquartered in Vichy, was governed by French, headed by
Marshall Petain. The Vichy had their own police, called the Milice,
which was responsible for the suppression of the French Resistance and
the enforcement of Nazi race laws. In The Statement, Pierre
Brossard (Michael Caine) was a young officer in the Vichy Milice who was
responsible for the deaths of seven Jews during World War II.
In present day
France, Broussard is living the life of a fugitive. He is protected by a
shadowy clique in the Catholic Church, known as Chevaliers, as well as
some former Vichy friends, some of whom who have become powerful
political officials. However, as the film starts Broussard is also being
targeted by someone for assassination.
At the same time,
Judge Annemarie Livi (Tilda Swinton) takes over as the third
investigator trying to find Broussard, and she obtains the aid of
Colonel Roux (Jeremy Northam). They also recognize that someone is
trying to kill Broussard, and all indications point to Jews to exact
vengeance. The daughter of a mixed Jewish-Catholic marriage, Annemarie
is intent on discovering who it is in the Church that has been
protecting Broussard all these years. As Broussard is hiding from both
his assassins, Annemarie is doggedly on his trail.
Based on a novel by
Brian Moore, which was based on the true story of Paul Touvier, who was
the only Frenchman to be convicted of crimes against humanity, The
Statement is an involving chase film. Broussard is a religious
fanatic, but he kills quickly and without hesitation. Caine, after
sleepwalking through The Quiet American, does a good job of
creating Broussardís complex character.
film is perniciously anti-Catholic in the way it shows Catholic clerics
sheltering Broussard and emphasizing Broussardís religiosity. No
mention is made of the heroic efforts of Catholic prelates to save Jews
from Nazi persecution in Vichy. The filmmakers ignore Archbishop Saliege
of Toulouse, Bishop Theas of Montauban and Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons,
the Primate of France, all of whom made vehement protests. Bishop Theas
was imprisoned. Saliege's pastoral letter, The ďBombe Saliege,Ē
banned by the Prefect of Toulouse, was still read in some 400 churches.
The Vichy government warned that if churches or monasteries hid Jews
they would be forcibly captured.
And how about Father
Marie-Benoit? He organized a forging operation to make hundreds of
identity cards, baptismal certificates and other forms of identification
for use by Jews. He and other Capuchins arranged for Jews to be secretly
transported from Marseilles to Spain and Switzerland. This went on for
so long that groups left regularly twice a week. But that wasnít all.
They organized several other rescue centers in the city.
But he was not
alone. Catholics protecting Jews became so widespread that in 1943, the
Vichy government arrested and deported 120 Catholic priests who
sheltered Jews. Director Norman Jewison apparently felt there was no
need to mention of any of this. And thereís never any explanation as
to why all these clerics were protecting Broussard, including a
Cardinal. The audience is left to think that the Church is universally
film contains not one positive depiction of a Catholic cleric. To show such a negative attitude without any mention of the
heroic efforts of many members of the clergy shows to me a corrupt
intention to leave a lasting negative impression about the Church.
Catholics should not
be defamed by glib Hollywood moviemakers who refuse to recognize how
many of them were persecuted and killed by the Nazis, and how many of
them risked their lives to save Jews. When is Hollywood going to make a
movie about people like Father Marie-Benoit? Apparently thereís no
interest in saying something positive about Catholic actions during
World War II. Instead, Hollywood makes films like this, attacking the
Church and relying on fiction as a defense. The Church is such an easy
target. Anti-Catholicism is the left wingís anti-Semitism. Say
something nasty about any politically correct group and it will never be forgotten or forgiven.
But itís open season to malign Catholics with impunity.
I hated the
anti-Catholicism in this movie, for two reasons. The first is the
blatant, narrow-minded, ignorant, malignant bigotry involved. But the
second is that itís a good, entertaining movie. I enjoyed every second
of it. But do I want to recommend people to see something that ignores
all the Catholic clerics who risked their lives, and died, trying to
save Jews during World War II and, instead, defames the Church by a
biased generalization? No. So my rating is mixed. If youíre a
fair-minded person, itís a 5. If you shut your mind to the
anti-Catholicism, as I was actually able to do, you should find this
enjoyable. If youíre anti-Catholic or donít care, itís an 8 or 9.
December 6, 2003