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Le Pantalon - some observations


alougheed
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A friend recently pointed out a link to the movie Le Pantalon in a thread in this forum and I didn't want to hijack the original thread so I thought I'd post something here. Unfortunately there are no subtitles but if you understand a little French it is not hard to follow. There were some interesting things that caught my attention. The story is essentially true, but the film makers took a slightly different take on the events and it is interesting to see how the story was adapted for film.
The basic facts are that in February 1915 a French soldier named Lucien Bersot was executed for refusing to wear the trousers of a soldier who had been killed. There were blood stains still visible in the material. This was an unconscionable sentence, though it reflects the desperate mood of the times.
During 1914 and early 1915, when it seemed the very survival of France was at stake, front line commanders were empowered and encouraged to make an example of soldiers who showed cowardice. Fusillés Pour l’Example, by Andre Bach, is a very good book on the subject, for anyone who can read French. Bach devotes several pages to the case of Lucien Bersot (see pages 524 -530), and makes some interesting conclusions. He notes that summary execution was extraordinarily unusual for a case of refusal to obey orders when not in front of the enemy, which makes the result all the more tragic.
Bach also noted that there was a grave procedural error in the trial. In the movie, the commanding officer is only a witness for the prosecution in the trial. In the actual historical case, it was the commanding officer himself who presided over the court-marshal, which was absolutely contrary to French procedure. An officer was prohibited from presiding over a court-marshal that he convened himself. For the accuser and judge to be the same person was a terrible miscarriage of justice.

here is the link to the fil on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMtem8zlLR8#t=423

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