A film about an unfinished film which portrays the people behind and before the camera in the Warsaw Ghetto, exposing the extent of the cinematic manipulation forever changing the way we look at historic images.
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Yael Hersonski's powerful documentary achieves a remarkable feat through its penetrating look at another film-the now-infamous Nazi-produced film about the Warsaw Ghetto. Discovered after the war, the unfinished work, with no soundtrack, quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record, despite its elaborate propagandistic construction. The later discovery of a long-missing reel complicated earlier readings, showing the manipulations of camera crews in these "everyday" scenes. Well-heeled Jews attending elegant dinners and theatricals (while callously stepping over the dead bodies of compatriots) now appeared as unwilling, but complicit, actors, alternately fearful and in denial of their looming fate. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
There is a real aesthetic and ethical layer to this movie that makes it fascinating and well worth the time and effort to watch. It is a film which shows a certain irony. The Nazis were going to show the real suffering in the Warsaw Ghetto. They were going to show the truth in what was happening in the Ghetto. That is why they filmed real scenes of suffering. However, they also filmed staged scenes in order to blame the suffering on the Jews themselves. The Nazis did not deny the suffering, they simply blamed the victims and hid the real cause - the Nazis themselves.
The film gives us enough information for us to understand that it was the the Nazis who were directly responsible for the inhuman conditions we see in the film.
This film shows us the essence of propaganda. It is the ruling class convincing itself that their victims deserve their suffering and are responsible for it.
The film exposes both the real situation and false propaganda the Nazis intended to create to fool people into believing that they were innocent of their crimes.
It is a brilliant, transcendental film that all people should see and consider.
Some of the scenes are pretty horrific, for example, corpses being collected and thrown into mass graves, and I did turn my eyes away from the screen briefly. However, there is also an ironical humor in seeing how the Nazis sought to shift the blame, but only ended up providing evidence of their inhuman and shocking crimes. The amazing viciousness of the Nazis is matched by the amazing stupidity of this master race.
I saw the film on Netflix. I believe it will be opening in two months in August in theaters around the country. See it on Netflix or in the theaters. It is time well spent. We owe it not to the dead, but to ourselves to see it and remember.
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