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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > Judaism > Image Before My Eyes – A History Of Jewish Life In Poland Before The Holocaust: 25Th Anniversary Special Edition

Image Before My Eyes – A History Of Jewish Life In Poland Before The Holocaust: 25Th Anniversary Special Edition


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



Poland and The Jewish Experience.  They will always be tied together.  When Stanley Kubrick was going to make The Aryan Papers, it was about an older sister and younger brother trying to escape persecution in Poland by pretending to be Aryan while others are being shipped to concentration camps and doing it in part with faked versions of the title item.  That is usually how we think of that relationship, but many do not know about just how rich and vital Jewish culture in the country was and how responsible Jews were for building the country before Nazis and the Soviets et6hnically cleaned so much of it.  Image Before My Eyes – A History Of Jewish Life In Poland Before The Holocaust (1980) is a remarkable and never-long-enough documentary that recreates the period with astounding footage, stills, sounds and music.


Why this aspect of history is still being suppressed is very disturbing and proves once again that one should never underestimate worldwide anti-Semitism.  Ironically, at a time when we see religion all the time and it is usually Islam as always bad and Christianity as infallible no matter how many extremists get to “moralize” about it and use it to justify insane policies, this “religion freedom” manages to still oppress all other forms of faith.  It is particularly insidious in relation to Judaism at a time when Israel is one of our greatest allies that new kinds of anti-Semitism are on the rise.


As I watched Joshua Waletzky’s documentary, I saw a huge missing link to how the world got to where it did, reminding this critic of the axiom that a past forgotten will be repeated.  Yes, pieces of this past have surfaced on the many other Holocaust documentaries we have been able to cover on the site, but this is particularly full, rich and direct in a way that is sadly lacking everywhere else, intended or not.  Other countries had Jewish cultures this rich, but for so many reasons too numerous to go into here, the Nazis targeted Poland for very intentional reasons (as the film The Gleiwitz Case, a review up next, shows) because of their worldwide hunt to destroy Jewish culture.  This film saves the invasion for the last act, spending most of its time recreating a rich, peaceful culture that had its problems, but should have been left alone.  But then, some people just cannot help themselves in not minding their own business and ruining everything, reminding us hate exists on many planes.  Don’t miss this reissue.


The 1.33 X 1 image is from an old analog transfer of the original film, starting with the yellowing of the white print on black opening credits.  This does not allow the DuArt color to thrive like it usually would, though if any print is available in at least this good of shape for the digital HD version, we are all in good shape.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is really boosted mono with some background noise, but sounds fine for its age and is not too many generations down.  Extras include text info about the companies involved, the director, a terrific study guide booklet inside the DVD case and solid audio commentary by director Waletzky.  It is especially good in dealing with the aspects of Judaism, which is the whole purpose of the film, but I actually after all of this still wanted to know more about the technical aspects including the story behind the older film footage.  Image Before My Eyes just gets better with age.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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