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Reinhart Heydrich is known by historians as having been a uniquely dangerous member of the Hitler's inner circle, as the man was not only far more intelligent than the usual Nazi thug, but completely amoral as well. Both sides are superbly bought out by David Warner as his Heydrich reveals his philosophy to Michael Moriarty's Captain Dorf - it was the high point of the miniseries. It marked Warner for me as a thinking man's villain.
As a family member of one of the actors I cannot give a true
It would be considered one sided and biased.
BUT as a person into WWII history I personally feel it was very well documented and was more realistic than one thinks.
This movie was to true to life in some areas that it makes one think of Shindlers List.
One gets the sense that the war was more personal with hitler than one think.
When the Captain finally realizes that hitler is not playing with all oars in the water is the part of the movie that really makes sense.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only reason I rated this miniseries a 6 instead of a 5 is because
it was a groundbreaking, envelope-pushing TV drama for its time.
Considering the full frontal nudity, I'm wondering how it aired on
broadcast television at all. However, the nudity was the most shocking
thing about this sterilized treatment of the Holocaust.
Shot in standard 70's television fashion--too much lighting, no ambiance, tight shots, poor acting, complete with "happy" ending--this historical drama looked more like an episode of "Little House" than a feature film, like "Schindler's List." Cheesy production, opening credits and acting aside, it was an important moment in American television.
Consider that just two decades earlier, very few Americans even spoke of the horrors of the Holocaust. This was a turning point in the general American consciousness about the "Final Solution" mercilessly carried out by the Nazis.
For its flaws and triteness, the movie does attempt to be historically accurate and culturally relevant. It touches on the growing anti-Semitism in 1930's Germany as the Nazis rose to power. It shows a meeting of the Einsatzgruppen Death's Head Chiefs discussing the Russian campaign, then their "Special Action" Commandos carrying out the grueling mass murders in ditches and ravines. It touches on the gas van killings and the gradual intensification of gassing pogroms. It shows the SS-initiated Wansee Conference where the Final Solution was discussed in detail. It gives glimpses into the Zyklon-B gassing operations at Auschwitz, and the Warsaw ghetto uprising. None of it is shown as gruesome as it must have been.
Throughout the 5-part miniseries (it is 5 parts on the DVD release), neither the ghettos, camps or work details are realistically portrayed. The actors are never shown in overcrowded, lice and disease-infested quarters or bordering starvation. On the contrary, Dr. Weiss is a well dressed and coifed physician throughout his stay in the Warsaw ghetto. Even when he and Mrs. Weiss board the deportation train, they look like they are off to a medical convention instead of a death camp.
The worst part was the cheesy, feel-good ending with Rudy Weiss giving pointers to a group of Greek Jewish orphans playing soccer in a field. The expression on the actors face at the end smacks of "Mary Tyler Moore" and many other 70's sitcoms. This was NOT a situation comedy. It should have been darker, drearier and more realistic. Not once did it evoke any strong emotion. I understand it having to be sterilized for a mass Western audience, but it was way too cheerful.
I don't want to detract from it's cultural significance in 1978, but watching it in 2010, it just smacks of "Starsky and Hutch" cheesiness. I knew as soon as I saw the opening credits what I was in for. Did they simply burn one of the leftover houses from "Little House on the Prairie"?
...but you must not forget.
Chomsky's "Holocaust" stands as the best mini-series ever made in my book .The performances are uniformly good,from Meryl Streep to Joseph Bottoms and from James Wood to David Warner.All have to be praised.
The actors were so involved Michael Moriarty (who portrays Erik Dorf) said that he cried after playing the Xmas party scene .Marta Dorf (Deborah Norton) epitomizes the Neo-Nazi we may encounter even today:she never believed that her husband was wrong "let's light a candle for his soul ,children" and she never will ,whereas Dorf perhaps understood his crimes when he saw the photographs in the American officer's office.
"Holocaust" is full of great scenes ,but I think it should be reserved for students over 12,because some moments are unbearable .It should be shown in every secondary school in the world.A deeply moving sequence shows Berta Weiss (the marvelous Rosemary Harris) saying goodbye to her pupils :she urges them to become educated persons ;she leaves them with sweet memories of "the taming of the shrew" and with a song she could not even sing one last time with them.
If you should see only one mini-series,it would have to be this one.A must.
Despite its length this still manages to hold attention throughout. The performances are excellent throughout, especially Meryll Streep as the 'good' German. The character of Eric Dorf very cleverly portrays the aridity of the Nazi mind and the fact that many of these monsters were terrifyingly 'ordinary' individuals who issued edicts condemning millions to their death as easily as they would order a change in traffic regulations. It has been many years since I first saw this on BBC TV and never forgot it. It is now available on DVD, though only it seems in France where a 4 disc set is available with a choice of English or French soundtrack. Highly recommended.
Hindsight's wonderful, and it easy now to criticise this series. I saw it first in Germany and the effect it had there was quite profound. It caused a national debate and, it could be argued, helped Germany face up to what occurred between 1933 and 1945, not so much from the extermination camps, but that they, a civilised people, could be led along that path.
While the Holocaust has been treated in many excellent films and
television shows, the 1978 TV mini-series "Holocaust" remains one of
the finest. This was the second mini-series ever produced for
television, and like it's predecessor, "Roots," the producers attempted
to create something that would rival the best that Hollywood could
produce for the movies, with the added ability of telling much more of
the story by virtue of having much more time to do it in. Thus, the
1978 television mini series "Holocaust" is as well-produced, written
and acted as Spielberg's extraordinary film "Schindler's List."
Particularly good performances are given by Meryl Streep as the aristocratic German wife to a Jewish artist, Karl Weiss, played by James Woods. (Did you know that Woods can be as good as a good-guy as he can as a bad-guy?) Karl Weiss is the eldest son of a prominent Berliner Jewish family. We follow him into the concentration camps, including Treblinka (the "show" camp) and eventually to Auschwitz (Oswiecim). Streep follows, sacrificing everything to try to stay with him, or at least near him, and to keep him alive.
Grandpa Weiss is a Jewish German patriot who fought for the Kaiser during WWI and is proud of it, and never can come to terms with the betrayal of his fellow patriots. Fritz Weaver is Papa Weiss, whose story takes us through the siege of the Warsaw Ghetto as he attempts to create some kind of order and safety in the midst of chaos and doom.
David Warner is remarkably sinister and urbane as Reinhard Heydrich, who came up with the legal gobbledygook to create the "Final Solution." Michael Moriarity plays Heinrich's assistant Erik Dorff, a former student and friend of the Weiss family. Moriarty chillingly portrays the seductive nature of National Socialism for the intellectual: He is given the choice of becoming a Nazi, and later Heinrich's assistant, or becoming cannon fodder on the Russian Front. He chooses the former, and goes about his task of carrying out the annihilation of the Jews, including his former good friends the Weiss', with cool logical efficiency. This may be Moriarty's finest hour as an actor.
Other actors of note include the actor's actor Ian Holm, former Brittish grand dame of the theater Rosemary Harris, Joseph Bottoms, Sam Wanamaker and Tovah Feldshuh.
This is entertaining history at its very best. Don't miss it.
I remember watching this mini-series back in 1978. My husband was working nights at the time and I watched it alone. I was spellbound night after night! I will never forget the impact this movie had on me. I have often wished for the chance to see it again. At the time we did not have a VCR player to make a copy of it. I told my husband every day how much I wished he could have been there to see it and I felt that every American should have the opportunity, along with the duty, to see the movie. We SHOULD NEVER FORGET or LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN! I wish the movie would be re-broadcast, even if on a satellite channel. High school and college students should be required to view the movie. They would have a better understanding of why history should not be repeated and hopefully they would appreciate what being an American means in terms of their freedom from this type of oppression.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Time has dulled the impact of this 1978 NBC blockbuster: we have had
much more graphic depictions of the Holocaust. What remains intact are
the parallel moral experiences of two families, one Aryan German,one
Polish-German Jewish, the moral strength of the latter played off
against the moral collapse of the former.
The problem with this juxtaposition is that the historical moral ambiguities involved were so profound that they cannot be satisfyingly analyzed, let alone brought to a sound conclusion, within a cinematic space. Schindler's List contains this problem by focusing primarily on Schindler himself. Charting 2 competing moral universes, and giving each one equal time (so to speak), inescapably makes Holocaust too diffuse.
If there is one overriding criticism, it's that too many characters, while portrayed by actors who went on to greater things, are only moral puppets. Few of them take fire as convincing individuals and too often that happens only with minor characters. The one towering exception is Fritz Weaver's utterly credible Josef Weiss, the Polish-born Jewish doctor who practices in Berlin where his family is one of the film's main foci. As his wife Bertha, Rosemary Harris is statically, even snobbishly, serene even walking into a gas chamber at Auschwitz. Meryl Streep's Inga, the Weiss' Christian daughter-in-law, is nobly devoted to her husband Karl but petulantly defiant with her parents, who resent the danger to which her marriage has exposed them.
Such improbabilities plague the film throughout. The final episode deals abruptly and simplistically with too many threads, as if the writers launched so much material that they had no time in the final episode to bring any of it to a believable conclusion. The worst is the final encounter between Rudi Weiss (Joseph Bottoms) and Inga. The 2 almost casually bump into each other at Terezin; they have not seen each other for 7 years, the family has been decimated and Rudi had never seen his nephew Josef, his only living relative. Yet Rudi and Inga chat for only a few minutes and take leave of each other as if they will meet for lunch next week; but the dialogue implies they may never see each other again. This does not ring true, given the heroic efforts by most camp survivors to find living relatives.
The writers dispose of Erik Dorf (Michael Moriarty), a once-idealistic lawyer corrupted by Nazi ideology, in a puzzlingly opaque manner. Dorf witnessed the death camps' operations and personally shot Jews; yet only in the office of a US Army interrogator, as Dorf looks in rather too detached a fashion at photographs of the camps and their victims, does he abruptly (and in that sense, inexplicably) realize what he has become. He pops a cyanide pill and leaves an ambitious, equally corrupt widow and deeply confused children to deal with his dark legacy as best they can.
Near-perfect sets, costumes and music can't quite compensate for the flawed achievement that is "Holocaust."
I am hoping to be a history teacher after college. As a history buff and a long time researcher on the Holocaust, I have to say the film Holocaust was one of the best movies on the subject I have ever seen. Even though the movie was 7.5 hours, it held my interest the whole way. Merryl Streep, James Woods, and the gentleman who played Doctor Josef Weiss (Fritz Weaver) were very good. Michael Moriarty who played Erik Dorf was very good at acting like the innocent just-out-of-college lawyer and then being a ruthless Nazi. Holocaust was an excellent movie and should be seen by all.
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