A Film Unfinished Review

There’s no denying the inherent historical value of A Film Unfinished, it features filmed footage intended for a Nazi propaganda film. For that slice of historical recording alone, A Film Unfinished earns itself a pass. However, assuming you’re not viewing the footage on mute and taking it in the way it was filmed (there’s no native sound to the footage), you have to watch it alongside the narration and interview audio that makes it a documentary. Its unique capacity for offering insight into Nazi propaganda is night unrivaled, unfortunately the exploration comes across as quite bland despite what should be an incredibly interesting subject.

The 1942 footage of Warsaw, as it was originally known, suggested a utopian world of Jewish society in the midst of the Nazi’s increasingly tight grip on their culture in the Polish city’s ghetto. At first the footage seemed like opportunistic editing, capturing a few idyllic moments while hiding any negative aspects of Nazi activity in the area. Then came the kicker. Additional footage was discovered, revealing these seemingly idyllic instances caught on tape to be rehearsed scenes filmed over multiple takes. The new footage offers deep insights to the lengths Nazis took to obscure certain realities of the Jewish reality in WWII Warsaw.

If that sounds interesting, that’s because it is. Unfortunately, the documentary really misses the mark in how it puts it all together with narration, making it incredibly dry.

DVD Bonus Features

There’s quite a bit here including interviews with author Adrian Wood and scholar Michael Berenbaum, the short film Death Mills by Billy Wilder showing life post-liberation concentration camps, and a learning aide to complement the film. There is also an essay by film scholar Annette Insdorf. Of these, Death Mills is the best of the bunch.

"A Film Unfinished" is on sale March 8, 2011 and is not rated. Documentary. Written and directed by Yael Hersonski. Starring Alexander Beyer.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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