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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > World War II > Genocide (Documentary)

Genocide (Documentary)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: B



In the 1970s, anti-Jewish sentiment was more casually widespread than anyone wants to admit.  The Simon Wiesenthal Center had only been established in 1977 and the injustice of The Holocaust was still not being heeded and even dismissed by many supposedly “responsible adults” as a “fluke” or something else that happened to happen to European Jews.  Arnold Schwartzman’s Genocide (1981) is a forerunner of the kinds of history pieces Ken Burns has done for PBS as if he was totally original, showing stills, clips and offering voice-overs in first-person narrative to show a new side of what The Nazis nearly pulled off.


Sir Martin Gilbert and Rabbi Marvin Hier have come up with a remarkable screenplay, thorough in its history and expression.  To top this off, the words are brilliantly recited by no less than Orson Welles and Elizabeth Taylor in extraordinary form.  This great work lasts about 90 minutes and could not go on long enough.  This easily won the Academy Award that year and is one of the best of such nominees on the subject to this day.  It has been a very long time since this has been broadcast and where has this been on video?  Now, with the DVD, a key work on the subject can be seen again!


The image is the one flaw here, a widescreen film (likely 1.85 X 1) that is shown here in a tunnel vision 1.33 X 1 print.  That is more annoying than a pan & scan print.  The print itself is not in bad shape otherwise, but distracting cutting-off of credits and translations hurts the presentation and that is very bad.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 is essentially monophonic, but the 5.1 mix fares a bit better, sounding like Pro Logic to some extent.  Extras include a trailer for this and four other related Koch DVDs and a brief piece on the Wiesenthal Institute that gives us some valuable perspective.  Genocide is required viewing beyond the basics that murder and The Holocaust is wrong; it gets to the roots of how and why.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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