Raw Footage Seen As Historic Record
Ever since the footage was found, there's been conjecture about why the Nazis chose to chronicle daily life in the Warsaw Ghetto, and heated debate about how to interpret the footage, which shows conditions contradictory to those known to have defined Warsaw Ghetto life.
The footage depicts a class of wealthy Jews who are entirely oblivious to the abject misery of impoverished Jews, implying that Jewish culture is selfish, antisocial and inferior to standards set by Aryan National Socialism.
In fact, Jews confined to the Warsaw Ghetto lived in cramped kennel-like accommodations, deprived of opportunities to work, rationed with 186 calories of food per day.
Daily life was a struggle for survival, and very few of the more than 400,000 Jews forced into the Warsaw Ghetto lived to tell of their suffering.
Recently, archivists discovered another reel of uncut Nazi-shot Warsaw Ghetto footage. The additional reel, as it turns out, elucidates that which is seen in the previously known 60 minutes of film.
In fact, the additional reel shows, without room for interpretation, that Nazi-shot scenes depicting happy, wealthy Warsaw Ghetto residents (read that as inmates) were actually staged. Not documented. Staged.
Setting the Record Straight
The footage used in A Film Unfinished is both harrowing and fascinating at the same time. You want to turn away from the gut wrenching, heartbreaking images, but what you see stimulates contemplation about how we filter memories of painful historic events and how the truth about heinous human behavior must be fully disclosed.
In A Film Unfinished, full disclosure comes via the testimony of a chorus of knowledgeable historians who provide essential background data, an actor reading the German cameraman's written accounts and the presence of Warsaw Ghetto survivors who bear witness in on camera interviews and voice over narration.
It's impressive that Hershonski and her team could locate survivors. They're now aged, but their memories are still keen and their voices strong. They speak for all others who were silenced.
That Yael Hersonski's grandmother was a Warsaw Ghetto survivor gives the director of A Film Unfinished a deeply personal involvement with her project. Yet, to her great credit, she proceeds in cool, clear and convincing way to unfold the facts, making her truly revelatory documentary all the more important and compelling.
However, the MPAA rates the film "R" for "disturbing images of holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity." That, of course, prevents high school screenings. What a shame! Isn't it crucial to set the historic record straight for youngsters, too?
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- Title: A Film Unfinished
- Director: Yael Hersonski
- Release Date: August 18, 2010 (limited release
- Running Time: 88 mins.
- Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
- Location: Germany, Israel
- Language: German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, with English subtitles
- Distribution Company: Oscilloscope Pictures
- Official Website