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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > World War II > Industry > Crime > The Champagne Safari (WWII)

The Champagne Safari (Documentary)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: B



Charles Bedaux was a great, wealthy industrialist who was only out for himself in one of the most self-willed, egotistical ways ever seen and yet his story has not been told.  George Ungar’s The Champagne Safari (1996) covers his story starting with impressing the corporate and business world with his ideas of labor efficiency, then moving on to other concepts, deals and grand ideas in which technocracy in the 1920s seemed like the way the world would go.  He became one of the richest men in the world, networking with the other rich and powerful.  This includes Nazi Germany before their rise to power.


As much as he will try to stay neutral and ignore nation-state boundaries, making money wherever he can, he juggles Capitalism, Socialism and Fascism as one of the premiere technocratic architects.  He even takes the title trip, which he has filmed by ace Hollywood cinematographer Floyd Crosby, but when he gets back, the party is over.  Even as WWII unknowingly approaches, he is coming up with new ideas and schemes to make money and just about all of them are braded with his name.  Then it becomes almost a game of how he will hold onto his wealth and survive.  Well compiled and edited, it turns out that he sadly and knowingly enough helped make the rise of the Nazis possible and the rest of that spilled blood on his hands in part is history.  It is a remarkable document and a must-see work for anyone interested in one of the least told big stories of the time.  It is a real winner.


The 1.33 x 1 image has a mix of many stills and many black and white film types form the past, many which are simply so old that they are just lacking in detail.  With that said, this is a pretty good transfer under the circumstances.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is simple stereo at best, all good enough to watch as the story becomes more and more compelling.  Extras include trailers for this and four other First Run titles that are similar in theme, a text essay, text director’s biography and stills.  When it is all done, especially in an age where corporate responsibility is being questioned with ever-larger multi-national corporations around and ugly stories still being told of companies who helped The Nazis, Bedaux’s story is a disturbing individual version of the many who have participated in the same kinds of shady activities since.  The story is as relevant now as ever.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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