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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > Photographer (1998/Documentary)

Photographer (1998/Documentary)


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



Just when you thought everything and way we could have seen The Holocaust had just about been uncovered, a discovery in 1987 of 400 full color slides in a Vienna second-hand book store turned out to be not just another picture collection.  As shot by Nazi accountant Walter Genewein, keeping track of the Lodz ghetto/slave labor camp, Photographer (1998) offers the twist that he shot the pictures in early color Agfa stocks for “business purposes” to help his work.


This impressive, probing 76 minutes-long work adds other documents and historical incidents from what are some of the very first full color slides ever shot.  It is with chilling irony when Genewein complains about the new stocks inability to correctly reproduce color instead of complain about those being tortured, terrorized and killed.  Dr. Arnold Mostowicz is a survivor who gives first-hand accounts in black and white about how horrible things were, adding resonance to the chilling images.  The color slides are so matter-of-fact about the “guests” that lived in this ghetto, its condition and other visitors.  Dariusz Jablonski directed the new segments based on this dark-but-priceless discovery.  Many have noted that maybe too much material is going on film about The Holocaust, but Photographer is a standout that has to be seen to be believed.


The 1.66 X 1 image is bookended in a 16 X 9 frame, though this DVD does not offer the film in an anamorphically enhanced form.  The new footage was shot by Tomasz Michalowski and it all looks good, and the print used on this DVD and the way the transfer is done definitely faithful to the current stocks and the subtle look ands flaws of the chilling Agfa slides.  The sound here is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds.  The film was issued in Dolby’s advanced analog SR (Spectral Recording) system and the 5.1 upgrade is better than the usual SR-to-digital hack jobs we have encountered.  The presentation is better than most non-music documentaries we have encountered in recently.  The only extras are five trailers for other Koch Lorber DVDs on the subject and the short included in all the programs in this series on The Simon Wiesenthal Center, but they will do.  Having color cuts into the desensitizing repetition of monochrome images of The Holocaust and reminds us how recent it really was.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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