1.              When you’re faced with something as heinous as the Holocaust, it’s tempting to turn it into a simple morality play.  This isn’t to say one can’t pass moral judgments – Hitler and his cohort were undeniably evil.  But judging can become a form of lazy evasion, a way of closing the book on the tricky realities of failure, guilt, and complicity.  
            Those complexities lie at the heart of The Last of the Unjust, the new documentary by Claude Lanzmann, the prickly Frenchman whose 1985 work Shoah is often called the best film about the Holocaust.  But where Shoah is dauntingly austere – its 9 1/2 hours offer no commentary or archival footage – The Last of the Unjust has a vivid immediacy.  It centers on one man, the late Benjamin Murmelstein, a Viennese rabbi reviled for his complicity with the Nazis.  Lanzmann interviewed him for hours back in 1975, getting the pudgy, bespectacled, hyper-verbal Murmelstein to explain his side of the story.

Read John Powers' review of the documentary The Last of the Unjust 

photo by Cohen Media Group via DailyBeast View in High-Res

                 When you’re faced with something as heinous as the Holocaust, it’s tempting to turn it into a simple morality play.  This isn’t to say one can’t pass moral judgments – Hitler and his cohort were undeniably evil.  But judging can become a form of lazy evasion, a way of closing the book on the tricky realities of failure, guilt, and complicity. 

                Those complexities lie at the heart of The Last of the Unjust, the new documentary by Claude Lanzmann, the prickly Frenchman whose 1985 work Shoah is often called the best film about the Holocaust.  But where Shoah is dauntingly austere – its 9 1/2 hours offer no commentary or archival footage – The Last of the Unjust has a vivid immediacy.  It centers on one man, the late Benjamin Murmelstein, a Viennese rabbi reviled for his complicity with the Nazis.  Lanzmann interviewed him for hours back in 1975, getting the pudgy, bespectacled, hyper-verbal Murmelstein to explain his side of the story.

    Read John Powers' review of the documentary The Last of the Unjust

    photo by Cohen Media Group via DailyBeast

  2. fresh air

    review

    john powers

    the last of the unjust

    holocaust

    hitler

    documentary

    claude lanzmann

    shoah

  1. It’s impossible to imagine a non-Jew writing this novel even as it’s tricky enough, as a non-Jewish critic, to review it. If I like the book, I’m insensitive; if I say it’s in bad taste, I’m falling into the guiltily pious attitude toward [Anne] Frank that Auslander ridicules.

    — Maureen Corrigan review Shalom Auslander’s comic novel about the Holocaust.

  2. shalom auslander

    hope: a tragedy

    foreskin's lament

    book review

    lit

    maureen corrigan

    holocaust

  1. Actress Kristin Scott Thomas stars in the drama Sarah’s Key, about the  French roundup of Jews during the Nazi occupation. “It’s something the  French have been extremely wary of talking about,” she says. “It’s been  hidden away for a very,  very long time.” [full interview here] View in High-Res

    Actress Kristin Scott Thomas stars in the drama Sarah’s Key, about the French roundup of Jews during the Nazi occupation. “It’s something the French have been extremely wary of talking about,” she says. “It’s been hidden away for a very, very long time.” [full interview here]

  2. kristin scott thomas

    sarah's key

    nazi

    holocaust

    france

  1. John Powers on This Must Be The Place: "Dressed as a 50-year-old Goth rocker Sean Penn enters a cross-country roadtrip to track down a Holocaust criminal. It’s a Holocaust road movie which is also [Penn’s character’s] coming of age story because the film is how he comes of age at age 50. In addition to all of this, it’s a comedy." View in High-Res

    John Powers on This Must Be The Place"Dressed as a 50-year-old Goth rocker Sean Penn enters a cross-country roadtrip to track down a Holocaust criminal. It’s a Holocaust road movie which is also [Penn’s character’s] coming of age story because the film is how he comes of age at age 50. In addition to all of this, it’s a comedy."

  2. john powers

    this must be the place

    sean penn

    holocaust

  1. John Powers reviews Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzman’s tribute to the Atacama Desert — the driest place on Earth, and home to both sophisticated observatories and the sober memories of a military regime’s abuses:  ”Watching Nostalgia for the Light, I suddenly remembered visiting the memorial to the Jewish heroes who fought the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. I was surrounded by an Israeli school group, whose teachers, moved to tears by what struck them as sacred ground, were aghast to see their students giggling, horsing around and flirting — in short, being teenagers. And though my brain sympathized with the adults who honored the memory of those blood-stained cobblestones, my body was on the side of the kids, who were living, breathing, exuberant proof that life goes on.” View in High-Res

    John Powers reviews Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzman’s tribute to the Atacama Desert — the driest place on Earth, and home to both sophisticated observatories and the sober memories of a military regime’s abuses:  Watching Nostalgia for the Light, I suddenly remembered visiting the memorial to the Jewish heroes who fought the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. I was surrounded by an Israeli school group, whose teachers, moved to tears by what struck them as sacred ground, were aghast to see their students giggling, horsing around and flirting — in short, being teenagers. And though my brain sympathized with the adults who honored the memory of those blood-stained cobblestones, my body was on the side of the kids, who were living, breathing, exuberant proof that life goes on.”

  2. chile

    astronomy

    atacama desert

    pinochet

    holocaust

    patricio guzman

    nostalgia for the light

    john powers

  1. During the Third Reich, Germany’s foreign ministry staff across  Europe cooperated in the mass murder of Jews and others, according to a  government-sponsored study released Thursday in Berlin.
The  report says German diplomats during the Nazi era were far more deeply  involved in the Holocaust than previously acknowledged. It also shows  how West German diplomats after the war worked to whitewash history and  create a myth of resistance and opposition to Nazi rule. View in High-Res

    During the Third Reich, Germany’s foreign ministry staff across Europe cooperated in the mass murder of Jews and others, according to a government-sponsored study released Thursday in Berlin.

    The report says German diplomats during the Nazi era were far more deeply involved in the Holocaust than previously acknowledged. It also shows how West German diplomats after the war worked to whitewash history and create a myth of resistance and opposition to Nazi rule.

  2. holocaust

    germany

    npr