The Last of the Unjust
With Shoah, the heroic Claude Lanzmann (87 and still going strong) re-oriented our understanding of the defining event of the 20th century. Three decades after that cinematic milestone, he does so once again, from an entirely new personal, historical and aesthetic perspective. At the new film’s center is Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt and a figure who was once despised by many of the surviving inhabitants of that dreadful "city". In a lengthy interview shot in Rome that was originally intended for Shoah (intercut with Lanzmann himself revisiting specific sites in Vienna and the Czech Republic, as well as footage, photos and artworks), the brilliant Murmelstein—sometimes excitedly but more often calmly – explains his actions and precisely defines his paradoxical role in history.