I won’t ever be the same.
It’s been over seventy years since Colette Marin-Catherine‘s brother Jean-Pierre was arrested in France and deported to the German concentration camp where he would later die. You can’t blame her for never wanting to go to see the site considering the anguish she’s dealt with in the aftermath and knowing the ways in which such places of abject horror have become tourist attractions in the decades since. As a so-called “woman who doesn’t cry,” it was thus an impossibility to deal with the emotions such a trip would conjure amongst disconnected strangers. Only when a student writing a paper on Jean-Pierre comes calling does Colette reconsider the journey. Together they will walk where he walked and remember the sacrifice he made regardless of their inevitable tears.
Director Anthony Giacchino‘s Colette documents the event with the care and grace that it deserves. Whether we’re inside Colette’s apartment the day Lucie Fouble meets her, in a German tavern to hear the city’s former mayor speak about his nation’s undying guilt, or following behind as these two women visit the tunnels and crematorium that served as Jean-Pierre’s final residence, everything seen and heard is from their perspective—uncensored and devoid of manipulation. That which occurs unfolds straight from the heart as Colette speaks about the loss her genius brother was when compared to her own youthful ignorance being relegated to writing down vehicle numbers for the French resistance or repays Lucie with a gift that can never be quantified. It’s a catharsis that carries a heavy price.
Beyond Colette’s experience reliving the past and seeing its setting first-hand, however, also comes an education in what went on. She’s a former resistance fighter after all—a hero considering only one percent of the population took up that mantle whether or not she accepts the term due to her age and duties at the time. And her companion is a historian who’s done the research to know exactly what her brother went through so that they can stand where he stood and absorb the weight of his truth. Watching them fall victim to that sorrow is enough to feel it ourselves to add our own tears with theirs. That they are able to put a face to this place’s suffering ensures that new generations will never forget.
courtesy of ShortsTV