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A Film Unfinished (2010)



Average Rating: 8.5/10
Reviews Counted: 62
Fresh: 60 | Rotten: 2

A heartbreaking, haunting historical document, A Film Unfinished excavates particularly horrible chapter of Holocaust history, and in doing so, the film provides a glimpse into the Nazi propaganda machine.


Average Rating: 8.9/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 0

A heartbreaking, haunting historical document, A Film Unfinished excavates particularly horrible chapter of Holocaust history, and in doing so, the film provides a glimpse into the Nazi propaganda machine.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 1,131

My Rating

Movie Info

Yael Hersonski's powerful documentary achieves a remarkable feat through its penetrating look at another film-the now-infamous Nazi-produced film about the Warsaw Ghetto. Discovered after the war, the unfinished work, with no soundtrack, Film Forum is proud to present Yael Hersonski's A FILM UNFINISHED, having its U.S. theatrical premiere on Wednesday, August 18. Since the end of WWII, one copy of a 60-minute (unfinished) propaganda film, shot by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in May 1942 (a

Jan 1, 2011


Oscilloscope Pictures

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All Critics (62) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (2) | DVD (3)

An electrifying essay on film's ability to falsify history.

March 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Filmmaker Yael Hersonski reshapes the impossibly vile and tragic source material into a devastating record of Nazi criminality.

January 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Yael Hersonski's documentary is infuriating, heartbreaking, devastating -- and scary. It depicts a lie upon a lie.

December 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
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Yael Hersonski's A Film Unfinished reclaims history, teaches a lesson about the reliability of images and raises unanswerable questions about complicity.

November 24, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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A remarkable new documentary that reminds us of film's inherent capacity for lying.

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
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A Film Unfinished reminds you that the nightmare of the Holocaust knows no limits.

November 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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a new and uniquely disturbing perspective on the Shoah

November 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Riveting, scary, and significant, Film Unfinished contrasts invaluable footage of agit-prop Nazi feature with the reaction of Warsaw Gehtto survivors to that footage and testimonies of the real life thee.

September 9, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Painful, eye-opening, and extraordinarily necessary to view, especially by the young to whom the Holocaust is nowadays too abstract a notion to fully mentally envision in all of its grotesqueness

March 22, 2011 Full Review Source: GreenCine

A heartbreaking but engrossing detective story that not only shines a light on Nazi evil but on the manipulative prowess of the Third Reich.

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

The more it strips itself to the evidence... the more devastating and affecting the portrait becomes.

March 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

...a very powerful documentary and first feature by Yael Hersonski.

December 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Hersonski brings something both old and new to the table with this powerful 89-minute documentary. Other strengths are the well-written narration read by Rona Keenan and the haunting original music of composer Yishai Adar.

December 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

A Film Unfinished is a sort of ghost story. It's guaranteed to haunt you.

December 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Examination of Nazi inhumanity by an Israeli director on record as opposing Zionist inhumanity.

December 6, 2010 Full Review Source:

It's impossible to watch A Film Unfinished and not feel haunted by the restless ghosts of history and those who tried -- and failed -- to use film to tell a lie.

December 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

...analysis, clarification and a counterbalancing - if not outright refutation - of the persistent, nasty myth of Jewish collaboration in the Holocaust.

December 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Moviegoers have witnessed dozens of depictions of these events over the years, but here we can see what it's like to view them with the eyes of real experience.

November 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly

A searing expose of the brutality of the Nazi regime ironically made by the perpetrators themselves, and a subtle examination of the process and purpose that lay behind it.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

The title also refers to Hersonski's own picture, part of a continuing saga that will never be finished as long as there are more Holocaust stories to expose.

November 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for A Film Unfinished

An insightful cache of informative but sickening images shot within the confines of Warsaw's Jewish Ghetto during the holocaust. Includes scenes staged by Hitler's propaganda machine as well as raw, unedited footage of Nazi crimes against humanity.
May 6, 2011
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The most depressing documentary that everyone should watch.
May 5, 2011
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

I'm not sure which was harder to watch...this film, or the extra feature "Death Mills". "Death Mills" is an actual short film directed by Billy Wilder for the U.S. War Dept in 1945. The short film was originally intended for screening in occupied Germany and Austria to show the people in those countries what horrors they supported. It was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated the camps: the survivors, the conditions, and the evidence of mass murder. This was eventually shown in the U.S., but was rarely done so. This short film alone made this a memorable watch.
March 17, 2011

Super Reviewer

There have been many incomplete films relegated to the dutsbins of oblivion. What separates the subject of "A Film Unfinished" is not its simple title of "The Ghetto" but its subject matter, that of the Warsaw Ghetto in May 1942, shortly before its liquidation, containing about an hour's worth of footage(some shot in color) commissioned by the Nazis that was forgotten for decades in East German archives.

For me watching the footage is like watching ghosts while providing insight into the horrible conditions inside the ghetto. It is very emotional for survivors to watch it, looking for people they once knew amongst the footage, some of it staged to give the appearance of affluence. As one survivor puts it, they did not have flowers and if they did, they would have eaten them.

So what was the purpose of the footage shot? We know it was propaganda, of course, but without any narration or soundtrack, it is hard to know for sure what the point was since that could change the meaning of what we see, even with the testimony of one of the cameramen.(A neat little trick I learned from Screen Studies 101.) And it is also hard to say what footage was intended for a completed film.(Like a lot of filmmakers, the Nazis used multiple takes.) Some survivors thought the film was made to give a negative portrait of the ghetto while I think the Nazis were intending to give the indication of a thriving and vibrant community to cover up any claims of the awful deed they were about to commit since they were not exactly open about the slaughters they committed.
February 19, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Shtikat Haarchion - A Film Unfinished (DE)
  • A Film Unfinished (Shtikat Haarchion) (UK)
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