From the darkness of Hitler's Europe to the mountains of the Catskills, Four Seasons Lodge follows a community of Holocaust survivors who come together each summer to dance, cook, fight and flirt-and celebrate their survival.
From the darkness of Hitler's Europe to the lush mountains of New York's Catskills, Four Seasons Lodge follows a community of Holocaust survivors who come together each summer at their beloved bungalow colony to dance, cook, fight and flirt - and celebrate their survival. Beautifully photographed by a team of cinematographers led by Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens), this unexpectedly funny film confronts sobering topics like aging, loss and the legacy of the Holocaust, capturing the Lodgers' intoxicating passion for life as the fate of their colony hangs in the balance. Written by
Every summer for the past few decades, a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors has met at the Four Seasons Lodge in the Catskill Mountains, drawn together by their unwitting participation in the single greatest crime-against-humanity of the modern era.
Though these individuals spend some of their time on camera detailing their harrowing experiences in the death camps, much of the documentary "Four Seasons Lodge," directed by Andrew Jacobs, a writer for "The New York Times," actually focuses on the here and now, on their lives and relationships with one another in the present day.
In fact, in many ways, the movie is less about being a concentration camp survivor than it is about the tragedy and trauma of growing old, of having to say goodbye - to each other, to life, and to the lodge itself, whose fate lies in the hands of this ever-diminishing group of people who are now seriously contemplating selling off their shares in it.
Perhaps the most poignant moment in the movie is the one in which we see, in grainy home movie footage from several decades back, the much younger versions of these same people, all hearty and hale and in the prime of their lives, dancing up a storm and enjoying to the full their time together. It's a stunning contrast to their condition today.
And, yet, through it all, these brave and spirited survivors - who have experienced and endured far more in their lives than the rest of us could possibly even imagine - have somehow managed to persevere and to make something of their lives.
"Four Seasons Lodge" is no great shakes as a piece of filmmaking. It doesn't tug at the heartstrings or provide grand moments of dramatic revelation as one might expect given the emotional intensity of the subject matter. In fact, the tone of the film is almost defiantly prosaic - a means, perhaps, of showing us just how successfully these people have managed to move on with their lives despite the horrors of the past. Whatever the goal, the movie provides a time capsule for future generations to study over and ponder. And to see history written in these lined, wizened faces.
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