Friday, February 12, 2010

Four Seasons Lodge (Rhoades)

“Four Seasons Lodge” Site of Holocaust Reunion
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My step-dad Frank is a WWII vet. And every year his battalion got together, hosted by one, then another, to acknowledge their common experience during the War. Frank and my mom would drive off in their RV to some distant part of America for this annual pilgrimage, then continue on to vacation at the Grand Canyon, Newfoundland, or Alaska. The vets stopped doing this reunion last year because the 300 or so original members had dwindled down to three.

So it’s not surprising to hear about a small band of WWII Holocaust survivors who gathered each summer at the Four Season Lodge in New York’s Catskills to “dance, cook, fight, flirt, and celebrate their survival.”

A documentary about that gathering titled “Four Seasons Lodge” is playing out this week at the Tropic Cinema.

Directed by Andrew Jacobs, he and cinematographers Albert Maysles (“Gimme Shelter”) and Justin Schein (“No Impact Man”) joined these old-timers faced with dwindling numbers and old age for their final get-together at Four Seasons Lodge. The reunion is lovingly filmed, capturing the subtle nuances of loss, longevity, and an enduring lust for life.

What’s surprising about this documentary is the absence of maudlin reminiscences of horror and tragedy at the hands of the Nazis. Instead, it’s funny and heartwarming as the so-called Lodgers come together in convivial celebration, old friends by now, with a common legacy. Each with numbers tattooed on their aged arms.

One online blogger disagreed. “Unfortunately a promising topic was turned into a sentimental and overwrought drama… I watched this with some survivor relatives and they could not relate at all. They knew the clichés and shook their heads hearing them once again….”

Maybe you, like me, haven’t heard all the clichés. No, I didn’t regret attending this last visit to “Four Seasons Lodge.”
[from Solares Hill]

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