- It was never made precisely clear whether or not using this unfinished Nazi film as a post-war “historical resource” was in terms of it being an accurate or inaccurate record. It’s clearly inaccurate with all we know today, I just wasn’t able to ascertain whether or not it was taken as accurate when it was first discovered.
- While the purpose of the film (beyond falling into a general category of propaganda) remains unknown, the absolute nonsensical propaganda about Jews is clearly evident and clearly demonstrates that these particular Nazi filmmakers were hacks. There is one staged scene where they have several Jewish women dressed up all fancy and then when poor starving children come by with their hands out, they don’t give them anything. This was apparently supposed to showcase how the well-fed Jew refuses to help starving children except for the fact, of course, that these are also Jewish children? Not that I’m expecting logic in the face of such unyielding prejudice, but what the hell, people. Nazi fail.
- Interspersed with the archival footage are clips of various survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto talking about their experiences while watching the footage, as well as clips of an interview with one of the cameramen for the movie. Again, it was unclear as to when these interview clips were recorded because none of these people seemed old enough to have lived in the Warsaw Ghetto. The director said afterwards that the cameraman had died in 1999, which meant that all those other clips were archival as well and not newly recorded as I had misinterpreted. This really threw me off.
- I did really like the juxtaposition of the texts and recollections of people who were in the ghetto with the obviously staged footage of everyone enjoying the life of luxury the ghetto offered. It was neat that many of one man’s diary excerpts were able to line up so well with the shot footage to illustrate what really happened vs. what you were seeing.
- I’m left a little cold by this movie. It tries to peel back layers of understanding and meaning in how histories are written and whose stories are told and how, but I feel like to truly have a revelatory experience with it I would have had to think that all the falsehoods present in a propaganda film were the truth. And obviously I don’t because, save for the sideshow of Holocaust deniers that unfortunately exist, we know from the get go that clearly everything in the movie is staged. I feel like we’re supposed to be mildly surprised when an outtake reel is discovered for this film because it shows how many takes were needed to make the scenes feel “natural”, but since we already know that the film is being constructed from the ground up, it doesn’t add anything new to my understanding of this wacko Nazi myth-building..
- Apparently this won some cinematography award at SXSW. I’m wondering how that works when 80% of the movie was shot by Nazi filmmakers.
Categories: 2.5 Stars