Allen Ellenzweig


How Italy Saved Its Jews

By Allen Ellenzweig

How Italy Saved Its Jews
The vagaries of international film distribution may produce the impression that the French have created a more significant body of work examining their nation’s moral failings under Nazi Occupation than any other European country. We have, for example, feature films like Louis Malle’s “Au revoir, les enfants,” Truffaut’s “Le Dernier Metro,” or Rose Bosch’s recent “La Rafle,” as well as magisterial documentaries like Marcel Ophuls’ “The Sorrow and the Pity” and “Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbi,” not to mention Claude Lanzmann’s singular “Shoah” and his recent, if problematic, “The Last of the Unjust.” It may be my lapse, but I can immediately think of no other European national cinema that has produced a documentary that takes its own Nazi period and examines it with the moral depth and complexity of “The Sorrow and the Pity” or “Hotel Terminus.” It could also be that significant works of that kind have simply not reached the international market.Read More


Hero in Print, Villain at Home

By Allen Ellenzweig

Hero in Print, Villain at Home
Few of us ever face a moral decision with life or death consequences, or that threatens to influence, however feebly, the course of history. This may be one reason why the moral calculations of men and women who lived during the rise of the Third Reich and the Second World War prove so durable as the subject of literature and film.Read More


Polish Drama in Black and White

By Allen Ellenzweig

Polish Drama in Black and White
Shot in rich black and white, “Ida” is a quiet, deliberately paced study of the end of innocence for a young Polish woman, Anna, raised an orphan in a convent. It is the early 1960s. On the verge of taking her vows, the Mother Superior tells Anna that her only living relative, an aunt, wants to see her. This is posed to the young novitiate as a task she must take up before renouncing the outside world. Anna leaves on the necessary journey, her hair modestly covered with her novice’s hooding.Read More


Josef Mengele in Patagonia

By Allen Ellenzweig

Josef Mengele in Patagonia
It seems apt that a renowned figure of evil — the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, the so-called “Angel of Death,” notorious for his cold-blooded “selections” at Auschwitz — should inspire a film whose mood is at once mysterious and sinister, yet whose visual style is strangely poetic, perhaps even terrifyingly beautiful.Read More


Guru of the Sexual Revolution

By Allen Ellenzweig

Guru of the Sexual Revolution
In “The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich,” shown recently at the New York Jewish Film Festival, Austrian writer and director Antonin Svoboda presents us with a sobering but odd theatrical feature about the controversial analyst and sex philosopher Wilhelm Reich.Read More



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