Diplomacy: Schlöndorff’s WWII Political Drama

Volker Schlöndorff’s Diplomacy, starring Niels Arestrup and André Dussollier, deals with a most intriguing political premise: On August 25, 1944, Hitler asked General Dietrich von Choltitz : “Is Paris burning?”

Schlöndorff dramatizes a fictionalized all-night confrontation between the steely Nazi general (Arestrup) and the wily Swedish consul, Raoul Nordling (Dussollier), which will decide the future of Paris.  Based in the legendary Hotel Meurice, on Rue de Rivoli, the two men engage in an extended battle of wits.

The script, by Schlöndorff and Cyril Gely, based on the hit play by the latter (with both actors reprising their stage roles), keeps the odds shifting. Just when we think the consul has won over the general, the old soldier comes back with a riposte that a new law, passed specifically for him, means death for his wife and children if he disobeys orders.

About the director:

Volker Schlöndorff has been a major international director for nearly 50 years, beginning with his acclaimed first film, Young Torless (1966). In addition to the Oscar-winning The Tin Drum (1979), he is known to American audiences for The Circle of Deceit (1981), Death of a Salesman (1985), The Handsmaid’s Tale (1990), The Legend of Rita (2000), and The Ninth Day (2004).

About the actors:

Actors André Dussollier and Niels Arestrup have appeared in more than 200 films since 1970; each has won three César Awards and together they’ve been nominated for another six. Arestrup starred as a Corsican mob boss in A Prophet (2010) and was recently seen in The French Minister, and Dussollier, an Alain Resnais regular, stars in Resnais’final film, Life of Riley.