A place: Theresienstadt. A unique place of propaganda which Adolf Eichmann called the “model ghetto”, designed to mislead the world and Jewish people regarding its real nature, to be the last step before the gas chamber…
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Claude Lanzmanns Shoah Projekt umfasst mittlerweile 200 Stunden Filmmaterial - ein Lebenswerk! Seit den 70ern trägt er Dokumente über das grösste Verbrechen der Menschheit, Ausschwitz, zusammen... die ganze Rezension sowie unsere Film List der grössten klassischen Dokus gibts auf cinegeek.de
Last "king" of the ghettoized Jews, Murmelstein also wants us to see him as a cunning Sancho Panza, thoughtfully calibrating at the apparent service of power gone mad. He wants us to see it lots of different ways. There is almost total abstraction of the actual. It ends w/ him ranting about himself in third person. This is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever seen, as open-ended as a life.
History is written by the victors and by those who survived it...the truth can be a little more dodgy. Lanzmann revisits the 1975 interview he did with Benjamin Murmelstein as he feels he needs to share this footage in what results as more then just a footnote to the masterpiece 'Shoah'. Lengthy, rewarding film that cuts in and out of the '75 talk with new footage in key locales reading the testament that remains.
Could have used a bit of variety with visuals and been more concise with the 'lecture' portions, with the approach of the filmmaker feeling monotonous every now and then. But the parts with the subject himself and the very open, casual way his interviews were done, stripped of any sort of packaging by the filmmaker, leaves every bit open to the audience and makes for a way more intriguing watch.
Lanzmann tackles a contentious subject, the head of the Theriesenstadt Judenrat, using interviews that are four decades old. Surprisingly sympathetic, it lacks the scope of Shoah and many of his other films but it is an enthralling historical documentary of ideas and is well worth a look.
The interviews with Benjamin Murmelstein are fascinating. The readings by Claude Lanzmann, shot in pertinent locations, less so. The cinematography stumbles (metaphorically) in attempting to replicate the long advancing and retreating tracking shots that dominated the look of SHOAH, but with handheld cameras. It's just not the same. Good history here, but room for improvement as a movie.