Paul's lover Matthew is dying of AIDS and is suffering from dementia. When Paul meets Jake in the steamroom after a respite at a public pool, he learns of the Yiddish concept of "the Aydes" the job of the witness.

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Paul's lover Matthew is dying of AIDS and is suffering from dementia. When Paul meets Jake in the steamroom after a respite at a public pool, he learns of the Yiddish concept of "the Aydes" the job of the witness.

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June 1993 (USA)  »

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Comparing AIDS to the Holocaust
22 March 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Deaf Heaven"

Comparing AIDS and the Holocaust

Amos Lassen

Paul's lover is dying from AIDS and he has lapsed into dementia. Our sick boy imagines himself traveling around the world and we realize that his death is near. Doctors are forced to decide, because of no living will, if he can stay in the hospital with his lover or be sent to his home to die near his parents who have had no contact with him. Paul realizes that he has little choice in the matter and after a long swim to take his mind off of the impending loss of his partner begins to cry in the sauna at his health club. An old Jew who happens to be there tells of how his family perished in Auschwitz right before his eyes.

Paul's lover, maintaining a brief spell of sanity, tells his doctor that Paul is his family and that their home is his home and responds that to go home to his parents who live in Kansas would mean instant death. He wants to stay with his lover.

Paul reflects on what the old Jew has said to him and he realizes that AIDS and the Holocaust are related in that in both people watched their loved ones die. The old man tells Paul that he will survive for a long time and Paul, like himself, will become a witness to history.

There is a question as to whether or not Paul actually saw the old Jew or was he a representation of God. The film, short as it is at 25 minutes, draws a clear parallel between the two most terrible times in the history of the world. In both we lost families, friends and an entire population of people were no more. Beautifully directed and extremely sensitive, here is a film of sensitivity and emotion that is not often seen and is a testament to man's inhumanity to man—like the Holocaust, no one spoke out about AIDS until it was too late. In the case of both tragedies, we are still paying the price and the loss of beautiful lives is quite a cost.


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