The Last of the Unjust

2014

The Last of the Unjust

Critics Consensus

Documentarian Claude Lanzmann brings the ghosts of the Holocaust back to vivid life once again The Last of the Unjust, a dense and haunting investigation into complicity and moral quandary.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 48

78%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 741
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Movie Info

1975. In Rome, Claude Lanzmann filmed a series of interviews with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last President of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia, the only "Elder of the Jews"* not to have been killed during the war. A rabbi in Vienna, following the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, Murmelstein fought bitterly with Adolf Eichmann, week after week for seven years, managing to help around 121,000 Jews leave the country, and preventing the liquidation of the ghetto. 2012. Claude Lanzmann, at 87 - without masking anything of the passage of time on men, but showing the incredible permanence of the locations involved -exhumes these interviews shot in Rome, returning to Theresienstadt, the town "given to the Jews by Hitler", a so-‐called model ghetto, but a ghetto of deceit chosen by Adolf Eichmann to dupe the world. We discover the extraordinary personality of Benjamin Murmelstein: a man blessed with a dazzling intelligence and a true courage, which, along with an unrivaled memory, makes him a wonderfully wry, sardonic and authentic storyteller. Through these three periods, from Nisko in Poland to Theresienstadt, and from Vienna to Rome, the film provides an unprecedented insight into the genesis of the Final Solution. It reveals the true face of Eichmann, and exposes without artifice the savage contradictions of the Jewish Councils. (c) Cohen

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Critic Reviews for The Last of the Unjust

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (2)

  • The running time (like all Lanzmann's films) is not oppressive but allows for Murmelstein and his interlocutor to talk through, around and inside the context and reality of pragmatism, egoism, heroism and evil.

    April 4, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    D.W. Mault

    CineVue
    Top Critic
  • Claude Lanzmann has created a new film whose heart is the interview footage shot for his monumental "Shoah" project of Austrian Benjamin Murmelstein, the so-called last of the Jewish Elders, those nominally in charge of the Nazis' Jewish ghettos.

    November 16, 2017 | Full Review…

    Daniel Kasman

    MUBI
    Top Critic
  • The Last of the Unjust breaks with the rigorous approach its director previously employed to find a just way to talk about the Nazis' mass murder of the Jews with film.

    October 2, 2017 | Full Review…
  • To some degree, the force of The Last of the Unjust is delivered in spite of Lanzmann's laxness as a filmmaker.

    April 12, 2016 | Full Review…
  • The best one can say for this troubling, if intermittently fascinating, mess is that it succeeds in raising questions, moral as well as aesthetic, that it cannot answer.

    December 31, 2015 | Full Review…

    J. Hoberman

    Tablet
    Top Critic
  • At three and a half hours, this documentary sometimes feels both overlong and far too detailed, but filmmaker Claude Lanzmann knows that this material is vitally important, and by putting it all out there he challenges the viewer to understand the truth.

    January 12, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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