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A Film Unfinished Reviews

Page 1 of 6
flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

July 18, 2010
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.
Sam B

Super Reviewer

May 5, 2011
The most depressing documentary that everyone should watch.
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

March 17, 2011
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.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 19, 2012
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.
Glenn G

Super Reviewer

September 15, 2010
Some films transcend filmmaking or entertainment and just ARE important and valuable and necessary. This is one of those rare and true finds. Literally. Discovered in a vault in East Germany after WWII were reels of silent footage filmed by Third Reich cameramen in the Warsaw Ghetto. Interspersed amongst the images of the massive amount of suffering are staged "scenes" of Jews in more luxurious settings (parties, lavish dinners, etc.). Wealthy-appearing Jews were also forced to walk carelessly by those who were starving or dead in the streets, to demonstrate how callously the Jews behaved. Holocaust survivors are shown this footage, and it is their reactions that prove to be the most haunting images in this film. A modern-day interview with one of the cameramen from that time adds yet another layer to what could have been a very dry documentary. While not the most rigorous of docs on this subject (it could have used a little more background exposition), it resonates greatly, especially today, where so-called "Reality" shows are more carefully written and staged than most fictional narratives. The lines between truth and fiction are so blurred these days, this vital filmgoing experience is a jolt of the reality we NEED to see.
Hamee
August 31, 2010
This is so heartbreaking to watch. The presentation of this story was unique and captivating, but the images are just horrible.
November 18, 2011
All around the world there lay pieces of films that have been left unfinished. I am sure of it, even if I have no evidence to support my theory. But I also am confident that none of those films are as fascinating as the film titled "The Ghetto", which lay in a concrete vault in the middle of the woods until it was finally discovered and viewed. However, those other films also do not have writer/director Yael Hersonski's talents to supplement the material in the form of the documentary A Film Unfinished.

During Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany and the surrounding lands, the propaganda department of the Third Reich was extremely active and it took full advantage of the allure of the motion picture to the people of Germany. Propaganda films released by Nazi Germany are notorious for their extreme views, as well as their careful construction. In Quentin Tarantino's latest film, Inglourious Basterds, he even pays tribute to the likes of Leni Riefanstahl's Triumph of the Will with a film within a film, the fictitious "Nation's Pride". So when a partial film was unearthed depicting everyday life in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland, it spikes curiosity as to why the film was never completed. But it also raises such questions as how documentary films are constructed and how much truth actually exists.

In A Film Unfinished, director Hersonski examines the film that was found and invites survivors of the Warsaw ghetto to view the film and reflect on what they see and what they remember. This tactic may be seen by some as being manipulative, but when you are talking about ghettoes and the Holocaust, who better to talk to than people with first-hand experience? Hersonski also investigates the work of one of the cameramen, Willy Wist, through a transcript of a war crime trial in which he testified.

The beginning of the film is a bit sluggish and uninteresting as the film was just digging in, but once the narration faded to the great interviews and footage of this film, it became much more engaging. I cannot help but think that at the end of the day I enjoyed this film as much as I did based simply on the topic of the film. Anything to do with the Third Reich and the Holocaust is immensely fascinating to me because it is the most recent event in human history that I cannot fathom actually being allowed to happen to the extent at which it did. And I am not denying it at all as some chemically unbalanced theorists might suggest. On the contrary I firmly believe it happened and that is what is so unbelievable.

Hersonski adds a great touch in what is her first feature film, presenting the material in the most interesting way possible. It made me think about the film industry in Nazi Germany and the power of film to be a persuasive argument as the filmmakers fabricated scenes to say what they wanted communicated instead of capturing the truth of the situation. It is a scary thing to think about, but it also made me think of contemporary documentary films and how much these films also do this. Not knowing the history, which was well researched by Hersonski here when she cited journals and trial transcripts as well as first-hand accounts, it is impossible to decipher the truth from lies. Even in this film, the viewer must trust the filmmaker is telling the truth. A Film Unfinished may not be the best or most important documentary on the Third Reich and all things related, but it does tell a good story with some real people and real footage of an era of Human history that many would like to forget, but none of us can ever escape.
October 2, 2010
Stunning, heartwrenching documentary about a Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 that was never released. This film shows just what true evil is, as Nazi filmmakers staged scenes of Jewish rich folk living a fun, comfortable life among the horrifying conditions of the poor. Many of the images are truly disturbing, and the mass grave scenes near the end of the film will haunt you for the rest of your life once you've seen them. A MUST SEE film on all levels for everyone over 14 years old.
Norzeleak
September 24, 2010
This is a beautifully pieced together historical documentary which focuses more on information than anything else. It's not necessarily entertaining, nor does it try to be for people who aren't interested in the content, making this much better than if it tried to expand its audience.
sjeunette
April 20, 2010
At the end of WWII, 60 minutes of raw film, having sat undisturbed in an East German archive, was discovered. Shot by the Nazis in Warsaw in May 1942, and labeled simply "Ghetto," this footage quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record of the Warsaw Ghetto. However, the later discovery of a long-missing reel complicated earlier readings of the footage. A FILM UNFINISHED presents the raw footage in its entirety, carefully noting fictionalized sequences (including a staged dinner party) falsely showing "the good life" enjoyed by Jewish urbanites, and probes deep into the making of a now-infamous Nazi propaganda film.

A FILM UNFINISHED is a film of enormous import, documenting some of the worst horrors of our time and exposing the efforts of its perpetrators to propel their agenda and cast it in a favorable light.
kyjeunette
April 20, 2010
At the end of WWII, 60 minutes of raw film, having sat undisturbed in an East German archive, was discovered. Shot by the Nazis in Warsaw in May 1942, and labeled simply "Ghetto," this footage quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record of the Warsaw Ghetto. However, the later discovery of a long-missing reel complicated earlier readings of the footage. A FILM UNFINISHED presents the raw footage in its entirety, carefully noting fictionalized sequences (including a staged dinner party) falsely showing "the good life" enjoyed by Jewish urbanites, and probes deep into the making of a now-infamous Nazi propaganda film.

A FILM UNFINISHED is a film of enormous import, documenting some of the worst horrors of our time and exposing the efforts of its perpetrators to propel their agenda and cast it in a favorable light.
June 8, 2014
Just terrible what happened. Hope lessons can be learned, Pure evil.
June 26, 2013
La mas cruel y estremecedora muestra de la propaganda Nazi, con imagenes nunca antes vista de la vida en los guetos que muestra hasta donde era capaz de llegar el regimen Nazi con tal de crear la mas grande mentira de la historia mundial.
Gavel Down.
April 6, 2012
Well made, but I've seen a LOT of films regarding WWII and I can't say I came out learning things I hadn't previously known or experiencing feelings I hadn't previously felt.

If you don't know much about the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, you will probably find this more interesting than I did.
Nik M.
February 1, 2013
A Film Unfinished is a crucial film. It depicts a necessary awakening to the truths and lies of Warsaw and features some of the most haunting displays of human torture seen in cinema. The film also poses a serious in-depth study on the effects of fabrication versus realism in cinema and at what point one becomes the other.
FilmGrinder S.
November 29, 2012
Knew this stuff already, good for someone who has no knowlege of the subject.
filmhipster.com
August 14, 2012
The most oppressive film you will ever see...footage of the tragic atrocities committed in the Warsaw Ghetto are graphic and will haunt you for life.
March 12, 2012
Nauseating, repulsive, disgustingâ¦the list of negative adjectives one could use to describe this film is a lengthy one. It has nothing to do with the superb efforts of the producer or director of the documentary, but rather the Nazi-generated film of the Warsaw Ghetto. The makers of "A Film Unfinished" do a splendid job of blending interviews with ghetto survivors years later, testimony of one of the Nazi cinematographers, and Adam Czerniaków, head of the Judenrat in the ghetto.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 19, 2012
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.
Anthony B.
January 24, 2012
A powerful and haunting look into life in the Nazi-era Warsaw ghetto. This movie, full of starving Jews dying in the streets or being beaten and humiliated by Nazi guards, is hard to watch. It's especially hard to watch considering that all of the archival footage comes from the outtakes of an unreleased Nazi propaganda film which tried to put a positive spin on things.
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