Shoah director’s The Last of the Unjust focuses on Benjamin Murmelstein and his fate as the last “Elder of the Jews”.
Veteran documentary director Claude Lanzmann will present the German premiere of his latest film, The Last of the Unjust (Le dernier des injustes), at the Arsenal Cinema in Berlin on Nov 24.
The film focuses on Benjamin Murmelstein and his fate as the last “Elder of the Jews”.
In the film, Lanzmann visits the places that play a central role in the interviews with Murmelstein. The director augments Murmelstein’s statements with excerpts from files, following his accounts and reconstructing the horrific dilemma of this “last of the unjust” who had to carry out Nazi orders.” However, for Lanzmann, Murmelstein was the “exact opposite of a collaborator” and his film attempts to give a just picture of him.
Lanzmann interviewed Murmelstein in Rome in 1975, while researching for his film Shoah. Ultimately, Murmelstein was not included in Lanzmann’s monumental work on the genocide of European Jews.
Now, some 40 years later, Lanzmann has returned to his interviews with Murmelstein.
“The fascination of Benjamin Murmelstein as an extraordinary personality forms the basis of this film that counters simple, quick judgments with detailed research. It is a study of the profound depths and extremely limited possibilities of this man who was turned into a functionary against his will,” said Rainer Rother, artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, about the film.
In February of this year, the Berlinale honoured Lanzmann with a Homage and the Honorary Golden Bear for his lifetime achievement. To honour the director, the Berlinale and Deutsche Kinemathek are showing his most recent film in cooperation with the Arsenal.
“Claude Lanzmann is one of the greatest documentarians. His latest film shows that his portrayal of inhumanity and violence, anti-Semitism and its consequences has taken on still another perspective,” says Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick.