Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Film Unfinished (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

A Film Unfinished

"A Film Unfinished" presents nothing less heinous than the manipulation of history by the Nazi regime in 1942, focusing on the Warsaw ghetto. After the war, a film was found in a warehouse with the simple title of "ghetto" on the canister. The contents are as startling as they are offensive containing propaganda of supposed wealthy Jewish residents dining in expensive restaurants, ignoring incredible despair and death, staging elegant ladies dancing while starving bodies collapse in the street. Nazi officials rehearse and instruct residents to walk by corpses,turning up their noses with pride.

One astounding image shows a young man fainting in the street as a rich display case is prepared. The insidious aim of this propaganda was to show people in the infamous ghetto going about their business eating and drinking with great freedom. Everyday business. Moreover, to even coerce the residents to ignore death without concern. All was choreographed with the intention of an Epic. Those who endure poverty deserve it as others rightly dance. The reality could not be more opposite or evil.

The second reel shows circumcision rituals staged in a haphazard fashion with the overt meaning that the residents are ridiculous and ancient and can only be meant for death.
Director Yael Hersonski is unflinching in her detail of the Nazis' sinister shadow play. The film is often slowed down to show the victims of the notorious ghetto. The residents seem to glare out with a karmic awareness, projecting ghosts of themselves that forever resist. The Nazis appear as they were: deliberate, leather-clad and imperious. Faceless in black and white. A surviving cameraman speaks. A Willie Wist. He knew nothing of the propaganda at the time. He was merely told to shoot.

Through the film we learn the legacy of Adam Czerniakow, put in charge by the Nazis of the Jewish council, but who ultimately led a Resistance, by telling everyone to keep a record of events. Czerniakow committed suicide when he learned the ghetto was soon to be liquidated, its residents killed.

The Nazis had all intentions of burying the film, a horrible euphemistic charade. Perhaps they did not count on the future, when other men and women would find these four laconic reels, hold them up to the light and dispel the ghosts of delusion.

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