The Last of the Unjust
Le Dernier des Injustes
Claude Lanzmann (Shoah) unravels the tale of the “model” concentration camp, Theresienstadt, through conversations with former rabbi and Jewish Council leader Benjamin Murmelstein, who spent the war years negotiating on a day-to-day basis with Adolf Eichmann.
May 21, 2014
|7:30 PM||SIFF Cinema Uptown||Date has passed|
Claude Lanzmann, whose epic Shoah is perhaps the greatest documentary ever made (certainly the definitive film about the Holocaust), returns to one of the subjects from that masterpiece to unravel the tale of the ‘model’ concentration camp, Theresienstadt, and the ambiguous leader of its Jewish Council, Benjamin Murmelstein. Lanzmann interviewed Murmelstein for Shoah, but felt he couldn’t do justice to him in the context of that film without doubling its length. A former rabbi from Vienna, Murmelstein spent the immediate pre-war years as Adolf Eichmann’s hand-picked representative of Austria’s Jewish community, and claimed to have saved 120,000 Jews from deportation and certain death by helping them escape to the US, Britain, and Palestine. Once war began and Murmelstein was sent to the camp, he negotiated on a day-to-day basis with Eichmann over the fate of its inmates. As Murmelstein puts it, “they wanted a puppet, but I got to pull some of the strings.” His interviews with Lanzmann are undeniably riveting, as he recounts the realities of life in the camp with complete candor, alternately erudite, cunning, and guileless. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of the ambiguities of war, and those who are forced to make heartrending choices to cope with the banality of evil.
Born in Paris in 1925, Claude Lanzmann has continually contributed to Les Temps Modernes and today is the director of the publication. Most known for his World War II documentary Shoah, Lanzmann has published several books detailing his life surrounding his films. In 2013 Lanzmann was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in recognition of his life’s work.
Sponsored by KING5, Seattle Weekly.
|Running Time:||218 minutes|
|Producer:||David Frenkel, Danny Krausz, Jean Labadie|
|Cinematographers:||William Lubtchansky, Caroline Champetier|
|Website:||Official Film Website|
|Filmography:||The Karski Report (Doc, 2010); Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4pm (Doc, 2001); A Visitor from the Living (Doc, 1997); Tsahal (Doc, 1994); Shoah (Doc, 1985); Israel, Why (Doc, 1973)|
|US Distributor:||Cohen Media Group|
|International Sales:||Le Pacte|