In 1994 the head director of the Cuban economic and urban planning office, told me this joke: Hitler and Stalin where having a drink in Hell. Stalin said to Hitler “how did you lose the war with such great tanks, planes and soldiers. Hitler responded, “ If I had your propaganda, my people would have never known we lost the war.” There was a long uncomfortable pause in the room, not knowing to laugh or keep to my self the director roared into laughter and explained soviet propaganda to me. I was changed for life!
After watching the film “A Film Unfinished” directed by Yael Hersonski. Left me asking a lot of unanswered questions. Her use of Actor Rudiger Vogler to play the Nazi cameraman Willy Wist was confusing. As a viewer of the film and seeing and hearing his confessions alongside the survivors. You feel you are looking at the real Willy Wist. When observing his body language and tone of voice you take it as an authentic confession. This was confusing and left me uneasy. I wanted to know this person, not a recreation. The survivor’s comments were compelling and insightful; it was real life not a recreated distraction, pure. When the woman said” I know I am human because I can react now to these images” hit me like a tap on the shoulder followed by a punch to the face. I related to this comment in so many ways. For it to affect her today is a reality check for myself. When I served in Iraq and experience horrific events, I could not let it affect me at that time. I stored it away, drove on and told myself to deal with it later. Later comes when something triggers that memory and if you feel safe, you experience the emotional and physically trauma with it, a year later or sixty-eight years later.
Leaving the theater and remembering what stuck with me was the static 3/4 double portraits. When you look into the subject’s eyes you need nothing else. It tells the whole story, the truth is told there is no going back. No narration can change what is really going on. In the Third Right’s propaganda film “The Eternal Jew” German title “Der Ewige Jude”, Directed by Fritz Hippler 1940. The narrator starts every sentence with “The Jews….. ” accompanied with a silent visual. The subject matter is never heard and never speaks. The film is fed to the viewer as if it is doctrine and the only truth. The viewer has no chance to question the Third Right’s propaganda agenda. Half way through the film it becomes unwatchable and nonsensical when it compares Jewish people to rats. In the found footage called Das Ghetto the Nazi’s have no usable footage for persuasion. When the actors are put into the false situation their eyes do not lie. To attempt to narrate over the 3/4 portraits the precision eye contact and emotion behind the eyes takes all fuel away from the Third Right’s propaganda machine. My opinion is the film was never finished because the footage was unusable it is visually too honest. It stands the test of time then and present. It is impossible not to connect with the Jewish people portrayed in the scenes.