Vancouver International Film Festival

Scott Wood

On Friday September 28th, Scott Wood, host of the interview show, attended the Vancouver International Film Festival’s screening of Terror’s Advocate.

Terror's Advocate (L' Avocat de la terreur)

France, 2007, 138 min, 35mm

Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

I was looking forward to a more detailed examination of the construction of morality in Terror’s Advocate. The United States and the Western World have a history of supporting any regime that will benefit the Western economy, no matter how brutal—for example Chile’s Pinochet among many others. And often, dictators like Saddam Hussein are only villainized by the West after they are no longer useful. For the most part, the film sidesteps the complex construction of morality and villainy for a portrait of one man and his tangled web of relationships.  

A half-Vietnamese, half-French mix, Verges grew up acutely aware of the downside of colonialism. After graduating from law school, Verges got his start defending insurrectionist bombers while the French colony Algeria was struggling for independence. He became attracted to his star client Djamila Bouhired and they married after her release. Not satisfied to be merely the husband of a national hero, Verges abandoned his family to live incognito among the world’s terror elite.

From there, the audience discovers just how small the world of terror is as Verges forges relationships with every major terrorist organization in the world. He even romances another client—yep, another jailed female bomber. The film also covers his general disillusionment with political ideals, the more he becomes involved with the system and terrors’ elite.

When asked if he would defend Hitler, Verges laughs and says that he would even defend Bush, if he would plead guilty. And this reaction sums up the film well.

Given the fates of most of his infamous clients—the film opens in the dilapidated shacks inhabited by the surviving followers of Cambodia’s Pol Pot, another one of Verges’ client-pals—it is quite interesting to see Verges’ fate in direct contrast. He conducts his interview in a lush office, full of antiques and expensive art, while boldly puffing a cigar. Even though he has lived his life determined to represent those who would fight Colonialism, in his old age Verge resembles any corrupt Western bureaucrat, evading questions that might incriminate him.

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  • Posted on: 11 March 2016
  • By: Administrator
  • Author: Scott Wood