Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing – Friends for life

ZDF/ARTE, 2013, 90 min.
ZDF Info, 2013, 2x 43 min.

Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, two grand seigneurs of European and international politics. For decades they have been joined by a strong bond of friendship. In the 1970s, they controlled the fates of their citizens as the German Chancellor and the French President. For years, their friendship shaped Europe’s development and provided important stimuli in international politics. Once, as soldiers during the Second World War, they were enemies; then, after the war, they became friends; and eventually they ended up as allies at the heads of their respective countries. Working together harmoniously as a team, they set up the European Council, started the G6 summit meetings and launched the European Monetary System. Together they worked hard to build the foundations of today’s European Union.

In “Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing: A Friendship between Men”, the erstwhile companions engage in a dialogue, looking back on their lives and their accomplishments. They afford us a glimpse behind the scenes of international politics by revealing personal details and exchanging reminiscences of the milestones of their respective terms in office, a time that was characterised for both of them by crises and obstacles. The two politicians came to power at a difficult time, in the mid 1970s, at the height of the biggest recession since the end of World War II. Despite the resistance of their countrymen – neighbours who still found it difficult to overcome their differences after two cruel world wars – the French President and the German Chancellor decided to coordinate their crisis management. The elder statesmen recall their regular phone calls, during which they coordinated their political manoeuvres, discussed economic measures and planned meetings between the world powers, through which the French President helped the German Chancellor to get back on the international political stage once again. In this 90-minute documentary by Sandra Maischberger and Dorothe Dörholt, the two politicians also talk about their own personal nadirs and their mutual support in difficult times, giving the film moments of moving emotions of the kind rarely seen, particularly in the reserved North German Helmut Schmidt.

Written & directed by: Dorothe Dörholt, Sandra Maischberger
Camera: Jan Kerhart, Stefan Paul, Mark Dölling
Sound: Claas de Buhr
Editing: Ulrich Skalicky
Production: Sandra Šamec
Producer: Nadja Frenz
Commissioning Editor: Milka Pavlićević (ZDF/ARTE)
Executive Producers: Matthias Martens