"I Have Never Forgotten You" is a comprehensive look at the life and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter and humanitarian. Narrated by Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman, it features interviews with longtime Wiesenthal associates, government leaders from around the world, friends and family members--many of whom have never discussed the legendary Nazi hunter and humanitarian on camera. Previously unseen archival film and photos also highlight the film. What was the driving force behind his work? What kept him going when for years the odds were against his efforts? What is his legacy today, more than 60 years after the end of World War Two? Written by
a touching documentary, though all one needs to do is get the subject down from start to finish
I Have Never Forgotten You, a documentary on Wiesenthal, is broken down into two parts that essentially blend together as one: the personal and professional. On the personal side of things, Wiesenthal came from a small Polish (or what was Russian and then again Polish) village, which today likely no longer exists, and after going through the loss of a father and a brother before the second world war lost everyone in his family during the holocaust. Only his wife survived, and somehow the two of them found each other again after it ended, which led to their child. But the personal side of Wiesenthal, of the anger and sadness of what was basically the more horrifying experience imaginable over the course of half a decade, soon went into the professional, and any hope he had of being an architect from his early years fell to the wayside, hence bringing out his legacy: *the* eminent Nazi-hunter of if not the world then at least Europe. By the time his later years came around- and later being his late 80s and early 90s- he was even being honored by the country he had made his place of operations, Austria, which had been a bittersweet connection.
His is one of those truly inspiring stories of the human spirit, all cliché aside, as he was full of humility but not an unjust man in the slightest. And the cost to bear, for him anyway, was too much to bear to give up if things got ugly (and, at times, it did, with protesters even fire-bombing his home and office of operations). At the same time we're shown Wiesenthal to be a man capable of great humor; I liked the part where the woman recounts Wiesenthal as a man with a joke to tell, sometimes not always appropriately for women's ears. Little details about Wiesenthal's balancing of his family life with his constant, unwavering attention to assisting in the capture of Nazi war criminals (he called himself a "researcher" in an interview) are maybe the most compelling, the kind of little biographical bits that one might overlook in the usual biographies. Nevertheless, if there is a main flaw to the film it's that the director does put a little of the sentiment on high with the music and some calculated ways to go about telling the story (nothing PBS wouldn't do, perhaps, though it doesn't necessarily rise the documentary to great art).
This being said, it's a very worthy testament to a man who, as Ben Kingsley noted, said all there needed to be said about what he had experienced in the gesture of his hand brushing against his face out of the burden that he faced, not even as a "hero", which Wiesenthal denies he was, but as a "survivor" which wiped out dozens of members of his closest family along with millions of others in the holocaust. In short, anyone who has an interest in what he was about would do well to see it, and even to those who contributed to the Wiesenthal group over the years may find out a thing or two not previously known.
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