The Last of the Unjust

The Last of the Unjust  {Le dernier des injustes}
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The Last of the Unjust
Le dernier des injustes
France, 2013, 220 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Austria
Topics: Documentary, Jewish Interest, War
Program: Modern Masters
Language: German English Sub-Titles

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.

DIRECTOR: Claude Lanzmann
Producer: David Frenkel, Danny Krausz, Jean Labadie, Kurt Stocker
Editor: Chantal Hymans
Screenwriter: Claude Lanzmann
Cinematographer: Caroline Champetier, William Lubtchansky
Principal Cast: Benjamin Murmelstein , Claude Lanzmann
Filmography: Sobibór, 14 octobre 1943, 16 heures (Doc, 2001)
Un vivant qui passe (Doc, 1999)
Tsahal (Doc, 1994)
Shoah (Doc, 1985)
Israel, Why (Doc, 1973)
Print Source: Cohen Media

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