This expert adaptation of a hit stage play imagines the negotiation between the German governor tasked by Hitler to destroy Paris and the Swedish counsel credited with persuading him not to.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
“‘Is Paris burning?’ was the famous question Adolf Hitler allegedly asked General Dietrich von Choltitz as the Allied forces reached the city’s borders… While we all know that von Choltitz and his retreating German army didn’t in fact burn Paris to the ground, the machinations behind that fateful decision make for highly engaging drama in Diplomacy, Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of the hit play by French dramaturge Cyril Gely… Serving as Governor for the occupying German army, von Choltitz (Niels Arestrup) rules over his forces from the elegant Hotel Meurice on the Rue de Rivoli. With a balcony looking out to the Tuileries Garden, the Seine and many other premiere sites, it’s the perfect spot to witness the city blown to high hell, which is the plan ordered up by the Führer himself and, if all goes well, about to be undertaken by von Choltitz’s troops. But a major monkey wrench is tossed into the machinery when Swedish consul Raoul Nordling (André Dussollier) shows up unannounced, and slowly but surely works his way into the German’s heart and mind, using every tool within his power – including a fair amount of wine and camembert – to convince the Governor to call off the blitz… Keeping the action mostly confined to von Choltitz’s elegant office, the director and cinematographer take great pains to reveal the city’s beauty as it lingers in the background, until a final, stunningly shot sequence underscores how much lovers of Paris owe to these two men.” — Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter