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.
What Will You Do When You Catch Me? is a parody of comunist times in Poland. A state-owned company director is having an afair during his delegation. Later on, his mistress turns out to be ... See full summary »
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
Not only because of the scenes of death, squalor, disease and hunger in the Ghetto (many of which had previously been screened in other documentaries) but because of what missing footage revealed: Most of the scenes were choreographed and rehearsed by the Nazis doing the filming, who forced their Jewish "actors" (including Adam Czerniakow, head of the Nazi appointed Judenrat) to do takes of the scenes until they were completed to the satisfaction of the Nazis. One can only imagine the terror these "actors" felt. The fact that the Nazis themselves never released this "documentary" they spent an entire month shooting in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 is significant. Why did they expend all that effort and then not release the film?
Without a doubt, the Nazi filmmakers experienced schadenfreude forcing Jews to enact scenes which suggested they were disgusting and depraved people who were indifferent to each other's suffering. But surely even the Nazis would not have expended such effort simply out of sadism. A clue exists with two other Nazi films (released in 1940) why the Nazis chose not to release this film, or even to edit it and provide narration. One of those films "Der Ewige Jude" (The Eternal Jew) consisted of scenes the Nazis shot in the Lodz Ghetto (crosscut with scenes of rats swarming out of a sewer and over sacks of grain) accompanied by tendentious narration. That film was a flop- even German audiences that had been exposed to years of Nazi propaganda recognized the film as odious and unsubtle propaganda, and knew without being told that the Nazis themselves created the appalling conditions in the Ghetto. The other film "Jud Suess" (Jew Suess) was a Nazi rewriting of a novel written by a Jewish author, which completely altered the story. However, it was a film with a plot, a hero, a heroine and of course a villain. It was odious propaganda as well, but it was dressed up as entertainment. It was a success, not only in Germany, but in other Nazi occupied countries, such as France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
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