“Passionate, engaging and emotional... A fine return to form for the veteran German helmer... An elegant orchestrated pas de deux between formidable opponents.”
As the Allies march toward Paris in the summer of 1944, Hitler gives orders that the French capital should not fall into enemy hands, or if it does, then ‘only as a field of rubble’. The person assigned to carry out this barbaric act is Wehrmacht commander of Greater Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, who already has mines planted on the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre and Notre Dame and on the bridges over the Seine. Nothing should be left as a reminder of the city’s former glory. However, at dawn on 25 August, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling steals into German headquarters through a secret underground tunnel and there starts a tension-filled game of cat and mouse as Nordling tries to persuade Choltitz to abandon his plan .
One of the most internationally renowned and culturally significant German filmmakers, Volker Schlöndorff was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, on March 31st 1939. His family soon relocated to Paris, where he spent most of his youth and completed his schooling, excelling at philosophy and economy and graduating with a degree in political science all while also studying film. He eventually served as an assistant director to the likes of Louis Malle, Alain Resnais and Jean-Pierre Melville.
Schlöndorff’s directorial debut came in 1964 with Young Törless, which received not only awards, but also recognition as one of the first international successes of New German Cinema. His box-office breakthrough in Germany though came in 1975 with The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, which he co-directed with his then wife Margarethe von Trotta. Schlöndorff’s biggest success to date, and one of the most important films of post-war Germany, was his 1979 film adaptation of Nobel prize winning author Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum. The film won the Palme d’or in Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This afforded him new opportunities in international film production. His first English language film, shot in France and released in 1984, was Swann in Love, an adaptation of the first two volumes of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. He went on to work in the United States, first adapting Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1985) and Ernest J. Gaines’ A Gathering of Old Men (1987) for American television, and then returning to theatrical films in 1990 with the Hollywood sci-fi film, The Handmaid’s Tale.
Aside from working in film, Schlöndorff has directed operas and stage plays as well. He has also been active in politics, both through his filmmaking and in his personal life; many of his films are socio-critical in nature, and he publically supported Angela Merkel during her campaigns for the position of German chancellor in 2005 and 2009. He strongly supported the preservation of the Babelsberg film studios when plans to destroy them emerged in the early 1990’s, even mounting a one-man campaign to keep them open, thereby conserving a piece of cinema history. He then served as the Chief Executive of Studio Babelsberg from 1992 until 1997. Before that, in 1973, he formed his own production company called Bioskop Film. Schlöndorff also teaches film and literature, and conducts an intensive Summer Seminar, at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Ambitious and entertaining in equal measure, Volker Schlöndorff’s films have exhibited his enthusiasm for filming what many others might have thought to be unfilmable, bringing German and international literary classics to the screen in a way that is accessible and understandable to audiences all over the world.
André Dussollier was born in Annecy, France, in 1946. He has acted in over 140 films since his debut in 1970. International audiences first saw him in 1973 in Francois Truffaut’s Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me. His subsequent film work included Eric Rohmer’s Perceval (1978), and the comedy 2 hommes et un couffin (1985), one of his most successful films at the box office which was remade in Hollywood as Three Men and a Baby. Dussollier’s career has spanned French theater and television as well as film; he was a regular in the films of Alain Resnais (from Life is a Bed of Roses in 1983 until Resnais’ final film, Life of Riley, in 2014), and more recently films such as A Very Long Engagement (2004), and Micmacs (2009) have introduced Dussollier to a new generation of international moviegoers. He was also memorable as the voice of the narrator in Amelie (2001). In Diplomacy he plays Raoul Nordling, the Swedish consul-general who campaigned to save the city of Paris from destruction.
Niels Arestrup was born of French and Danish descent in 1949 in Montreuil, France. Interested in acting from a young age, he studied drama under legendary instructor Tania Balachova. He first found work acting on stage, but quickly moved to film (although his involvement in theater still continued). Some of his most noteworthy films include Alain Resnais’ Stavisky (1974), Chantal Akerman’s Je, tu, il, elle (1976), and Jeanne Moreau’s Lumière (1976). Arestrup also starred in Marco Ferreri’s The Future is Woman (1984) and Istvan Szabo’s Karin Anderson biopic, Meeting Venus (1991). Although already prolific in both film and theater in his native France—he is the only actor to have ever won three Best Supporting Actor Césars—it wasn’t until 2009 that he reached greater international recognition with his unforgettable role as the Corsican prison boss in Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (2009). He also had supporting roles in Julian Schnabel’s acclaimed Jean-Dominique Bauby biopic, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (2011). In Diplomacy he stars as General Dietrich von Choltitz, the Wehrmacht commander of Greater Paris who is ordered to reduce the city to “a field of rubble.”
“4 OUT OF 4 STARS.
“PACED LIKE A THRILLER...INCREDIBLE CAST...
“A LOVE STORY ABOUT PARIS.
“Passionate, engaging and emotional... A fine return to form for the veteran German helmer (The Tin Drum)... An elegant orchestrated pas de deux between formidable opponents.”
“Filled with twists, turns and underhanded schemes that show how history sometimes lies in the hands of a selected few, not to mention a good glass of Chardonnay... One thrilling verbal duel after another.”
“The great Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) has crafted a modern-day Grand Illusion—a fascinating moral debate about war, by men who have their orders.”
“Schlöndorff gives it the IMMEDIACY OF
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