Aliza Sommer-Herz, aged 109 and the world's oldest Holocaust survivor, tells the story of how music saved her life: both during her time at Theresienstadt concentration camp and in the years afterwards.
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James A. Baker,
The Lady In Number 6 is one of the most inspirational and uplifting stories of the year. 109 year old, Aliza Sommer-Herz, the world's oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor shares her story on how to achieve a long and happy life. She discussed the importance of music, laughter and how to have an optimistic outlook on life.Written by
Probably the most artistic and well-crafted of the nominated films.
Today I made my annual pilgrimage to the local theater to see all the Oscar-nominated Documentary Shorts. My good friend came with me and force once we were in agreement as to which shorts were strongest and weakest--which is a little unusual.
"The Lady in Number 6" is a film about Alice Herz Sommers. Although she is 109 when the film was made, she was amazingly healthy and vibrant in the short. It begins with her playing beautiful classical music on the piano and she does on to tell her life story. She was a concert pianist who grew up in Czechoslovakia--a very successful one. However, her life with her husband Leopold* and son Raphael changed forever when the Nazis invaded in early 1939. She, along with a couple friends, then talk about their experiences in the Nazi camp Theresienstadt--a fake model prison where the Red Cross was fooled into believing the Nazis were benevolent towards the Jews--a camp where music and the arts thrived (at least when folks from the outside were watching).
The story, however, is not just about the horrors but about how Alice's positive thinking helped her survive and thrive in this hell. In many ways, it's a nice complement to Victor Frankl's book "Man's Search for Meaning"--a book that asks what is it about some inmates that helped them survive whereas others just shriveled up and died. It's all very interesting and informative and makes for lovely viewing. The film's strengths are its existential undercurrent as well as the amazingly artistic quality of the film itself. From a purely technical point of view, it is the most professional looking of the nominees--with amazing post-production work and direction.
*By the way, this film made an odd omission. While it talks about Alice and her son, no further mention is made of Leopold! He apparently was killed in Auschwitz. Also, I checked. At 110, Alice is still going strong!
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