Reality Bites/

Collaboration Horizontale (2010)


Collaboration Horizontale is the French term describing a French woman who has had sexual relations with a soldier of an occupying force. The term dates to the middle ages.

On August 18th 1944 Robert Capa, the founder of Magnum photography and one of the most venerated and respected war photographers of the 20th century was in the Northern French town of Chartres. The town had only been liberated from German forces hours before. There he was to take one of the most iconic photographs of his distinguished career…

Across France following liberation a mass hysteria ensued. In Chartres, in scenes to repeated across the country, a mob descended on a young women who bore a child to a German soldier. The circumstances of their relationship to this date remain unclear. The mob shaved her head and taunted her she walked through the crowds clutching her newly born child. For those who have seen this image it is impossible to forget what has being described as Robert Capa's fallen-Madonna image of a shaven-headed young woman, cradling her baby, implicitly the result of a relationship with a German soldier as the crowds surrounded her.

It may seem strange that head-shaving should have become so widespread during the leftist liberation euphoria in France in 1944. There was a strong element of vicarious eroticism among the tondeurs and their crowd, even though the punishment they were about to inflict symbolised the desexualisation of their victim. This "ugly carnival" became the pattern soon after D-day. Once a city, town or village had been liberated by the allies or the resistance the shearers would get to work. In mid-June, on the market day following the capture of the town of Carentan, a dozen women were shorn publicly. In Cherbourg on 14 July, a truckload of young women, most of them teenagers, were driven through the streets. In Villedieu, one of the victims was a woman who had simply been a cleaner in the local German military headquarters. In Paris prostitutes known to have German clients were kicked to death. But the young woman whose head was shaven in Chartres captured on film by Robert Capa became the enduring icon of “Collaboration Hortizontale”

Sixty five years on from when Capa captured this image this documentary aims to unravel the mystery of that woman’s story and answer the question of what happened to that child born at a crossroads in history.

Fastnet Films
Official_selections Cork Film Festival
Production Company: Fastnet Films
tel: +353 1 4789566
fax: +353 1 4789567
Music: 3Epkano
Director: Ciaran Cassidy
Photography: Kate McCullough
Producer: Morgan Bushe
Running Time: 13"28'
Status: Completed
Financiers: Irish Film Board
Irish Locations: N/A
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