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Weapons of the Spirit

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Pierre Sauvage's fascinating personal documentary about the remarkable French town of Le Chambon, only 20 miles from Vichy, where the 5,000 inhabitants, most of them devout Protestants, managed to shelter 5,000 Jews during the Nazi occupation. Whatever one's misgivings about the ultraconventional form of this documentary and the excessive use of music--which tends to register as so much lily gilding--the story that this film has to tell is such a remarkable and inspiring one that it still has the force of a revelation. Sauvage is a Jew who was born in Le Chambon in 1944, and as he interviews many of the surviving inhabitants of the town today, their simple and unpretentious goodness, which somehow managed to "subvert" even certain Vichy officials, gives us a look at that era that forces us to revise somewhat the conclusions reached in Shoah, The Sorrow and the Pity, and Hotel Terminus. Offering a healthy and bracing alternative to the ethnocentrism that informs so much commentary about the holocaust, this is a film that quite simply restores one's faith in humanity. A presentation of the Jewish Film Foundation. (Univ. of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th St., Sunday, December 3, 6:00; also Deerbrook, Monday, December 4, 7:00; also Skokie, Tuesday, December 5, 7:00 and 9:00; 588-2763)

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