An excellent profile, narrated by Nicole Kidman, of the world’s most famous, tenacious – and notorious – Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, the man instrumental in exposing and/or tracking down Eichmann, many of the boys from Brazil, and those harbouring Nazi pasts. As it is made by Moriah, the film division of the foundation that bears his name, and was co-written by its founder Rabbi Marvin Hier, you could forgive a somewhat hagiographical approach. But, whereas an independently produced documentary might have expanded on some of the film’s more abbreviated references – to Wiesenthal’s battles with Hier over the categorisation of former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim as a war criminal, for instance – given more time to the views of his many detractors and doubters or possibly eschewed the ‘sensitive’ wind- and string-based mood music provided here by Lee Holdridge, Richard Trank’s tribute still proves a quietly revelatory and moving work, well researched and amply illustrated with archive material and a variety of new interviews (from ‘Odessa File’ writer Frederick Forysth to his daughter and a number of former colleagues). From the opening set-up in Mauthausen – where in 1945, the 37-year-old, 99lb, architect was liberated – charting back to his Galician birthplace and forward to his death in Vienna in 2005, the film paints a fascinating portrait of an emotional, complex ‘researcher and survivor’ and reminds us powerfully of the relevance of his remembrance in understanding later tragedies.
Friday July 27 2007