Sunday, July 06, 2008


Left I at the Movies: The Devil's Advocate

Last night, courtesy of a recommendation from Roeper and not-Roeper, I watched the fascinating documentary, "Terror's Advocate" (the French title, "Avocat de le Terreur," means both "Terror's Lawyer" and "Terror's Advocate"; I suppose either translation would have been accurate). It's the story of a famous French lawyer, Jacques Vergès, who had a communist, anti-imperialist background and started his career defending Algerian and Palestinian freedom fighters ("terrorists" in Western language). In later years, he has been involved with the defense of Slobadan Milosevic and Tariq Aziz, but has also been involved with the defense of such right-wing figures as Nazi Klaus Barbie.

The film raises questions about the legitimacy of the use of terror as a weapon in a freedom struggle, and also the question of the "equivalence" (or lack thereof) between the terrorism of the oppressed and the terrorism of the oppressor. In addition to a portrait of Vergès himself, it's also quite a history lesson. Its coverage of the Algerian independence struggle forms a nice companion piece to "The Battle of Algiers", even interviewing some of the principals in that struggle.

A famous Vergès quote, when asked during his defense of the Nazi Barbie if he would have defended Hitler, he replies, "Hitler? Why, I'd even defend Bush...but only if he agrees to plead guilty."

Definitely recommended. Additional links: Wikipedia, YouTube videos.

Why stop here? There's more...

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