Hannah Arendt Center Conferences
[The Last of the Unjust: Film Screening and Conversation with Roger Berkowitz]

Hannah Arendt Center presents:

The Last of the Unjust: Film Screening and Conversation with Roger Berkowitz

Sunday, May 4, 2014 Upstate Films, Rhinebeck
12:00 pm
This event occurred on:  Sun. May 4

The Last of the Unjust with director Claude Lanzmann (Shoah) and Roger Berkowitz, academic director of the Hannah Arendt Center, leads the post-film discussion.
1975. In Rome, Claude Lanzmann filmed a series of interviews with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last President of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia, the only "Elder of the Jews" not to have been killed during the war. A rabbi in Vienna, following the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, Murmelstein fought bitterly with Adolf Eichmann, week after week for seven years, managing to help around 121,000 Jews leave the country, and preventing the liquidation of the ghetto.

2012. Claude Lanzmann, at 87—without masking anything of the passage of time on men, but showing the incredible permanence of the locations involved—exhumes these interviews shot in Rome, returning to Theresienstadt, the town “given to the Jews by Hitler,” a so-called model ghetto, but a ghetto of deceit chosen by Adolf Eichmann to dupe the world. We discover the extraordinary personality of Benjamin Murmelstein: a man blessed with a dazzling intelligence and a true courage, which, along with an unrivaled memory, makes him a wonderfully wry, sardonic and authentic storyteller. Through these three periods, from Nisko in Poland to Theresienstadt, and from Vienna to Rome, the film provides an unprecedented insight into the genesis of the Final Solution. It reveals the true face of Eichmann, and exposes without artifice the savage contradictions of the Jewish Councils.

Anthony Lane of the New Yorker says in his review: "[The film] takes a stand, at once patient and irate, against the ebb tide of years. ...the film is stirred and enlivened by the tribute that it pays to pure survival."

“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

The New Yorker also notes how Lanzmann "considers Israel from the perspective of what he calls the 'reappropriation of violence by the Jews'" in many of his films.

“Utterly fascinating. A reminder of another way documentaries can be made: simply, agonizingly, without comedy or narcissism, and with unforgettable, almost unbearable power.” —Esquire

Learn more about the event and purchase tickets here.

First 20 Bard students who email arendt@bard.edu and reserve will get free tickets.