Programmed by Arnaud Hée
French, English, German
The intimate diary that Victor Klemperer wrote from 1933 to 1945 is one of the most detailed and most impressive pieces of evidence of the fate of German Jews under the Nazi regime. This is the text of a great writer. It is the story of a man whom everything except his life was stripped away. It is a lesson in resistance. What can a mere university professor, a pariah, who has been deprived of all means and all rights, do on his own against barbarism? He can do nothing except continue to think as a free man.
The clacking of a typewriter is soon drowned out by the Hitler Youth’s drumming before the Nazi language is heard, not spoken but shouted, vociferated, spat out by aggressive loudspeakers. “Language Does Not Lie” is the story of a superb, unequal and desperate combat led by Victor Klemperer as he tries to maintain culture and reason despite the barbarism that’s savagely burying everything. The photo at the very end of the film – an image of Klemperer smiling – lingers with us… we’d like to imagine him as a mischievous prankster. The film is often shot through with a strange tonality, a kind of terrible humour, a form of detachment accentuated by Denis Lavant’s beautiful narration. This is not a smokescreen for the horror; it’s perhaps the only way that this act of resistance and freedom can exist.
Programmer, teacher and critic