Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 documentary, Shoah—the most monumental record about the Holocaust ever produced—is, above all, an act of bearing witness. In researching his epic work, Lanzmann spent many hours in 1975 in Rome interviewing Benjamin Murmelstein, who was at the time the only surviving president of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt death camp during World War II. These conversations never made it into Shoah but they are here presented with current-day footage of Lanzmann, now in his late eighties, as he walks through Theresienstadt (and other sites of Nazi atrocity) and explains the particular horrors of what happened there. The ghetto, roughly 40 miles outside Prague, served not only as a transit point for Jews before they were shipped to extermination camps but also as a “model Jewish settlement,” a propaganda ploy to convince international organizations that Nazis were treating Jews fairly. Murmelstein is asked by Lanzmann to address, among many other accusations, the charge that he was a Nazi collaborator. His answers are eloquent but evasive; Murmelstein beguiles the director by describing himself as a “marionette that had to pull its own strings.” In this essential document about reckoning with the past, Lanzmann shows that some contradictions are impossible to explain away.
Fascinating and Impressive…The Last of the Unjust is the portrait of an individual whose actions still defy comprehension, and the self-portrait of an artist consumed by the past.
—A.O. Scott, The New York Times
A historic film.
—Richard Brody, The New Yorker
Official Selection – Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival (2013), and César Awards (2014)
LANGUAGE English, French, German
RUNNING TIME 218 min
PRODUCTION France, Austria, 2013
FORMAT(S) 35mm or DCP
Swank Motion Pictures
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