Lies To Cover Up The Truth

by Zoe Pollock

Andrew O'Hehir reviews "A Film Unfinished," a documentary on the partially staged Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942:

You might view "A Film Unfinished" as an exploration of the film-theory idea that movies always embody lies and the truth at the same time. The fact that Nazis compelled well-dressed Jews to walk past dead bodies, over and over again, or forced groups of men and women to strip naked and plunge into the mikvah, or ritual bath, in front of the cameramen exposes the regime's cruelty and cynicism.

But those dead people were really dead, and the anguish and humiliation we see on the face of one of those naked women in the bath speak loudly and clearly and directly to the heart, across all that time and history and death. It's a truism to say that history always teaches us about the present, but the lessons of "A Film Unfinished" may be useful the next time you hear someone ranting about the "ground zero mosque." "Das Ghetto" sat on the shelf because its lies were insufficient to cover up its truth, and because even the most evil works of propaganda always reveal more about its creators than they want you to see.

My former coworkers, the team behind The PBS NewsHour's Art Beat, spoke to the filmmaker here.