Terror’s Advocate

DICTATORS. TERRORISTS. WAR CRIMINALS. MEET THE MAN WHO DEFENDED THEM ALL.

terrorsadvocateThe director behind Reversal of Fortune (1990) returned to the courtroom, but this time for a simple, straight-forward documentary about one of the world’s most famous (and infamous) attorneys, Jacques Vergés. With unmistakable delight, often with a cigar in his hand, the lawyer invites us into his world and constant balancing on the edge of the abyss, having defended high-profile murderers, terrorists and dictators like Klaus Barbie, Tariq Aziz and former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan. However, the portrait becomes nuanced as Vergés gets into the Algerian conflict of the 1960s and the marriage to one of his clients, the militant Djamila Bouhired. Many others contribute to a rich portrait and an often fascinating chronicle of the past decades.

2007-France. 137 min. Color. Produced by Rita Dagher. Directed by Barbet Schroeder.

Trivia: Original title: L’avocat de la terreur.

Last word: “While at the beginning [Vergés] was a heroic figure for me, he became a somewhat repulsive mystery. But as I love monsters, I wasnt going to look a gift horse in the mouth! But really, what thrilled me most was the opportunity, through Vergés, of making a film about contemporary history, about our experience of the last 50 years, about what I too have lived through since the age of 13. So its also a film about my own political history, a look at my own life. Certainly, its not the same view I had while I was living through these events…” (Schroeder, EmanuelLevy.com)

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