Genre: Documentary, Drama, Epic/Historical
Opens locally Friday, September 24th, 2010 at the Maple Art in Bloomfield Hills
Directed by Yael Hersonski
Run Time: 1 hr 29 minutes
View the trailer for "A Film Unfinished".
"A Film Unfinished" is a haunting, emotional documentary centering on the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, Nazi-occupied Poland. At the end of WW II, one copy of an unfinished, 60 minute film was discovered in a vault in East Germany, simply titled, "Ghetto". The film, it turns out, was shot by the Nazis from within the Ghetto in 1942, and it's true purpose is unknown. It had no sound, no beginning, no ending, and was mainly thought of to serve as Nazi propaganda. "A Film Unfinished" as it is being released today, takes this original film and presents it in an intriguing, useful way. It is the kind of documentary that is fascinating, but using the word "entertaining" is not at all appropriate. This is the kind of movie that may be a tough sell in the theatre, but should be required viewing in any classroom dealing with the Holocaust.
Education. For a quick schooling (and I'm no scholar), visit the film's website. It describes the Ghetto and it's role, for those unaware, as: "part of the (Nazi) solution for the Jews, the massive transfer of Jews to impossibly unlivable urban ghettos was a key tool used by the Nazis to eviscerate the Jews of Europe; ghettos were often the last transit point before deportation to gassing and liquidation centers."
The Method. Director Yael Hersonski weaves footage from this original 60 minute film with a number of interesting elements. First, diaries uncovered from a Jewish official used inside of the Ghetto by the Nazis, chronicled his role in the staged propaganda scenes, which include a dinner party scene falsely showing "the good life" enjoyed by Jewish residents of the Ghetto. He matches voice-over readings from the diaries with the scenes in the film that are truly propaganda.
Other scenes though, depict real glimpses into the Warsaw Ghetto, and we see actual survivors watching the footage along with us, as they horrifically identify people on screen from time to time.
Although there are no known leads, one of the cameramen at work on the Ghetto film was located and interviewed in the 1960s. His testimony is voiced-over in this new film as well, shedding some insider light on the making of the original film.
Why the Film is Important. What we're left with is a harrowing, and disturbing look into not only the famed Warsaw Ghetto, but into the minds of the Nazi propaganda machine. To know what they did is to recognize pure evil...it becomes something else when we see how meticulously they worked at trying to shed their actions in a good light. The importance of "A Film Unfinished" is massive, because without it, the original 60 minute film would not be fully understood or explained. Hersonski's work here takes the original footage from the level of "important" film,and elevates it to "required viewing". It is a key historic record that will forever shed light on one of the darkest periods in human history.
Final Thoughts. Not taking away anything from the film is impossible...it will resonate with you, the images of the faces and the acts in which we are witness to. To view this movie in a theatre however, may be a challenge for audiences...not that being challenged is a bad thing, but this movie would be better viewed on the History Channel, or in a classroom. That being said, "A Film Unfinished" should be required viewing for anybody who wants to be able to talk about Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, or WWII, with any level of know-how.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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