53- A Film Unfinished [8.5]
Since the end of WWII, one copy of a 60-minute (unfinished) propaganda film, shot by the Nazis in May 1942 (a year prior to the uprising), labeled simply “Ghetto,” sat undisturbed in an East German archive.
A Film Unfinished shows the Nazi propaganda machine in full effect, as Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto are forced to participate in scenes creating a false history. Almost sixty years later, some of the Jews who experienced the horror are interviewed and view footage from the unfinished film as the reflection of the projected images appear on their faces. The haunting effect is one of the many things in A Film Unfinished that will likely stay with me for a long time.
It is one thing to watch horrific acts depicted in fiction. It’s another to see the real thing in a documentary. The bastardized blending of fiction into propaganda in A Film Unfinished is especially difficult to watch. One scene depicts Jews supposedly bustling along the street as their day would normally go when, in actuality, they are moving hurriedly because a gun was fired off screen to get them to move quickly. There are a lot of graphic scenes in the movie and I strongly urge caution before watching (though I do believe it is incredibly important for people to see). I’ve long been fascinated with what goes into making a film, but I wish could unsee what occurs in this particular documentary.