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Why We Fight (2005)
A documentary all Americans should watch
Despite obvious comparison with Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11this is not a gonzo bit of egotistic movie making with a big cuddly shambolic star doing stunts. This is a serious piece of research and reporting of the highest standard. Instead of the meaningless Bushite mantra of 'freedom; freedom; freedom' it pinpoints the historical dimension of the Iraq war and the ideological manipulation and monetary and political interests of the military industrial complex that has landed USA into the hand of crypto Fascists who hide the truth from the people who instead are fed 'bread and circuses' by the culture industry. However Jarecki includes key neocons like Richard Perle and great clips of Rumsfeld schmoozing with Saddam Hussein our ally against Iran to whom US sold his wmd. Jarecki also includes a fascinating story of a Vietnam vet who backs the war because it was against Al Qaidia but falls apart as he watches Bush shuffle sheepishly away from that. It was been premièred at the Sundance film festival where it won the Grand Jury prize for documentary. But I doubt any of the US mass media which colludes with the military industrial complex as part of the 'national security state' will allow it to be shown. But we have had it shown In British TV.
Daleká cesta (1950)
Realism and magic in Czech Holocaust marriage
One of the first films about the Holocaust, this is set in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt (modern Terezin) about a marriage between a Jewish woman and a Czech gentile but with truly impressive filmic style which was much admired by Alain Resnais who reflected it in his 'Night and Fog'. There are parallels here with Lanzman's 'Un Vivant Qui Passe' also about Theresienstadt and Maetzig's German near contemporary film 'Ehe im Schatten' (marriage in the shadows) about a similar marriage. Alfred Radok is one of the great lost directors - part of the famous Laterna Magika of Prague - he was the victim not just of the Nazis but of the Communists.
Ostatni etap (1948)
A great documentary about Auschwitz and women
Jakubowska uses documentary techniques that are quite remarkable - location shots, use of actual participants speaking their own languages to build up the experience of women being sent to Auschwitz, the death camp. A great film for Poland, for the Holocaust, for women, for resistance against fascism - but it is not quite clear where the place of the Jews in this is. There is the slogan "You must not allow Auschwitz to be repeated" and the role of the Russians as liberators is emphasised with shots of their planes overhead. Amusing to compare with Wyler's 1942 "Mrs.Miniver" - but "The Last Stage" alas is unavailable.
Ehe im Schatten (1947)
One of the great Holocaust films
Brecht thought this was pure kitsch, but it is interesting that this melodrama, based on a true story, together with Jakubowska's The Last Stage (Ostani Etap 1948) were the first immediate post war filmic reactions to the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis and came from Communist East Europe. Sadly these are extremely difficult to get to see. There are of course elements of propaganda for the Russians as 'liberators' but only with the TV mini series 'Holocaust' and of course 'Schindler's List' did these issues very belatedly get addressed by Hollywood.