Following the film’s restoration by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, the newly restored version of Oscar(R)-winner Marcel Ophüls’ 1976 documentary THE MEMORY OF JUSTICE will be debut on HBO2 on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Monday, April 24. The rarely seen epic was presented at the Berlin, Toronto and New York film festivals in 2015.
THE MEMORY OF JUSTICE explores the relationship between individual and collective responsibility, as Ophüls investigates then-recent alleged war crimes committed by France in Algeria and by the U.S. in Vietnam in light of atrocities committed by the Nazis. The director was inspired by the 1970 book “Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy,” by Telford Taylor, a counsel for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials, who became a harsh critic of America’s escalating involvement in Vietnam.
Filmed 30 years after the end of World War II and the Nuremberg trials, the film draws on the unique perspectives of those who lived through the conflict and those who came of age afterward. THE MEMORY OF JUSTICE features rare archival footage and interviews with both victims and architects of atrocities, raising essential questions about the moral choices made by individuals and governments in the latter half of the 20th century that are equally relevant today.
“It seems to me that THE MEMORY OF JUSTICE, which flopped pretty badly when it first came out, is the best work I ever did in my life, or at any rate the most personal and the most sincere of my films,” says Marcel Ophüls. “Now, thanks to Martin Scorsese and The Film Foundation, and with the help of my favorite studio, my favorite child has been put back into circulation as an adult. Needless to say, I’m immensely grateful!”
“THE MEMORY OF JUSTICE is a monumental documentary achievement; an essential work of historic and intellectual importance,” notes Martin Scorsese, founder and chair of The Film Foundation. “The film was unavailable for decades and, strongly encouraged by my friend Jay Cocks, the Academy and The Film Foundation undertook the nearly ten-year process of restoration. We were incredibly fortunate to have support for this project from Olivia Harrison’s Material World Charitable Foundation and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.”
After years of research, The Film Foundation and the Academy Film Archive discovered an original, unlabeled, 16mm camera negative of THE MEMORY OF JUSTICE in a studio vault, and worked closely with Ophüls and producer Hamilton Fish on its restoration. Newly discovered original recordings of Ophüls’ interviews with French and German speaking interview subjects were restored and substituted for the existing English-language voiceover tracks. New subtitles in English, French and German were created for the restoration so that the participants’ own voices can now be heard, along with Ophüls’ questions.
The original film screened at the 1976 Cannes and New York Film Festivals, and was hailed by Vincent Canby as “a standard against which all other non-fiction cinema must be measured.”