In September 2021, France celebrated the end of the death penalty, which was abolished 40 years ago. A powerful decision that would define the first seven years of François Mitterrand as president. The driving force behind that decision was Robert Badinter. For him it was the fight of a lifetime. The documentary tells the story of his life leading up to the fight to abolish the death penalty and is told through old archive images and interviews with his family and closest friends
Even though this documentary was released on the 40th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in France, the documentary doesn’t focus on that. The main topic is the life of Robert Badinter, in which the abolition of the death penalty of course played a big role. The documentary shows us Robert Badinter’s life story, and how personal experiences and things that happened to the ones closest to him impacted his professional career.
A first big moment in his life, is when his Jewish dad was deported by the Nazi’s when Robert was only 14 years old. He would never see his father again, it is that moment that marks his quest against injustice. He later became a lawyer and as a lawyer he represented some famous people like Coco Chanel, but he never lost sight of his fight against injustice. He would take on cases not necessarily to defend his client. He would not make the case about his client’s guilt, but against applying the death penalty.
When François Mitterrand was elected president, he chose Robert Badinter as his Minister of Justice. Mitterrand himself was a firm opponent of the death penalty. One of Badinter’s first actions as Minister of Justice was beginning the process to abolish the death penalty, starting with introducing a bill to the French Parliament proposing the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes, both civilian and military.
In my opinion, this documentary gives a nice overview of the life of Robert Badinter. We see all the key moments that shaped his fight against injustice, which came to its peak when he succeeded in abolishing the death penalty. The documentary shows the viewer why Badinter fights against injustice, it is interesting to get those insights about the motivation of a man who has achieved as much as Robert Badinter.