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Review: A Film Unfinished

Documentary reassembles footage discarded by the Nazis
By PETER KEOUGH  |  September 21, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


Some realities even the best propagandists can't spin. In May 1942, a team of Goebbels's cameramen shot footage in the Warsaw Ghetto, recording some of its appalling misery, but also staging scenes of rich Jews wallowing in luxury. The apparent intention was to make a screed proving that the Jews' greed was to blame for their own suffering, but instead the film ended up unedited in cans in an archive, where it remained till after the war.

Yael Hersonski takes this footage, much of it consisting of starving figures stumbling down streets littered with corpses, and intercuts it with re-enacted testimony given by one of the Nazi cameramen at a post-war trial, and also with shots of Ghetto survivors watching the Nazi footage today.

She doesn't pull these pieces together, but some are unforgettable, as when an elderly survivor recoils from horrors filmed seven decades ago and then says, "I'm so happy I am human again and can cry."

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