ART OF REMEMBRANCE: SIMON WIESENTHAL
by Hannah Heer & Werner Schmiedel
Director of Photography Hannah Heer
Original Music John Zorn
A/USA 1995 color 99 min
Simon Wiesenthal, Richard R. Seibel, Stanley Robbin, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Raul Hilberg, Mark Weitzman, Efraim Zuroff, Alfred Streim, Sylvie Corrin-Zyss, Rabbi Moshe-Leib Kolesnik, Rabbi Joshua O.Haberman, Zwi Werblowsky, Tania Golden, Carl Achleitner
A film that builds its case with quiet force and intellectual
acuity, The Art of Remembrance: Simon Wiesenthal is far removed
from the sort of standard-issue hagiography that clutters the
Skillfully directed by Hannah Heer and Werner Schmiedel, with original music from John Zorn, the '95 documentary puts Wiesenthal at its center less to glorify one man's work than to inquire into the moral imperative of that work. Wiesenthal, a onetime architect, began his crusade -- "justice, not revenge" -- right after the end of the war, and almost by accident. The chance discovery of a street sign bearing the words Eichmann & Sons set Wiesenthal on a search that, 15 years later, led to the arrest of one of those most responsible for the "final solution."
Over the years, Wiesenthal has tirelessly pursued other war criminals, lobbied Germany (somewhat successfully) and Austria (far less so) to make amends, and helped to organize human-rights organizations, including the one that bears his name. In the end, what makes Wiesenthal a remarkable citizen of the 20th century is not so much his role as a "Nazi hunter", but his morality. Wiesenthal's sense of righteousness and of keeping the past present has been his greatest answer to the Shoah.
--Manohla Dargis, LA Weekly
More Top-Notch Films at Cinema Judaica
...Incredible as it may seem, Johanna Heer and Werner Schmiedel's outstanding "THE ART OF REMEMBRANCE - SIMON WIESENTHAL", a festival highlight, is the first feature-length documentary on the man who from his first day of his liberation from Mauthausen concentration camp dedicated his life to bringing Nazi criminals to justice. The film offers a comprehensive survey of Wiesenthal's remarkable life and ongoing work, which includes efforts on behalf of all people deprived of human rights. The point that Wiesenthal makes so well is that while he may forgive his tormentors he cannot do so on behalf of the millions who died in the Holocaust.
--Kevin Thomas, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Title of documentary about famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal
really says it all: Pic is less concerned with the story of his
life than is with the process of ensuring that the Holocaust (and
other genocidal crimes) are not denied or forgotten. Mixture of
interviews, news footage and other material makes clear just what
those who would remember are up against. Docu will score in limited
situations and should have a strong ancillary life.
Filmmakers Johanna Heer and Werner Schmiedel get beyond the notion of Wiesenthal as avenging angel who helped provide the evidence that led to the capture of Adolf Eichmann and who discovered the man who arrested Anne Frank. Although those stories are recounted, what is more interesting is the indifference which with his efforts are often met by those in authority (...)
THE ART OF REMEMBRANCE is about dealing with the past - and, pointedly, not running away from such issues in the present.
(...) filmmakers have created an important document.
--Daniel M.Kimmel, VARIETY
PROFILE GOES PAST NAZI-HUNTER TAG
The documentary The Art of Remembrance: Simon Wiesenthal goes beyond the dry earnestness you might expect from a profile of the so-called Nazi hunter.
Getting beyond that simplistic Nazi-hunter tag is one of the things Johanna Heer and Werner Schmiedel's film does well. The Art of Remembrance follows Wiesenthal through Austria, America and several other countries as he crusades to keep the fight for Holocaust justice alive. It not only mixes in details about Wiesenthal's background and World War II concentration-camp experiences, it also illustrates how his drive to track down Nazi war criminals is designed not only to right a past wrong, but also to send a message to those who might commit similar ethnic cleansing atrocities.
Heer, a cinematographer whose past credits include Percy Adlon's Sugarbaby, brings a rich palette of colors to the documentary. And avant-jazz musician John Zorn scored it, so Remembrance supplies more in style than mere talking heads.
It also turns out to be a potent condemnation of the Austrian government's indifference to bringing Nazi criminals to justice in the decades following the war, most dramatically in news clips from the 1970s feud between Wiesenthal and several highranking Austrian leaders who were hiding their pasts. The scandal resulted in the exposure of one war criminal and Wiesenthal's victory in a court case against the chancellor.
The relating of such events, as well as Wiesenthal's talking about tracking down Adolf Eichmann and, later, Anne Frank's arresting officer, are fascinating.
--Paul Sherman, BOSTON HEROLD
The life and times of Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor
and determined seeker of justice, are compellingly presented in
Johanna Heer and Werner Schmiedel's feature documentary, showing
in morning screenings this weekend at Laemmle's Sunset 5 in West
"The Art of Remembrance: Simon Wiesenthal" is successful overall in following the career of this much-revered subject and in arguing for public education about the Holocaust as a necessity in the ominous climate of rising neo-Nazism and intolerance in Europe and elsewhere.
Filmed in the early 1990s at several locations including America and his native Austria, Wiesenthal tells many stories of horrible experiences in concentration camps and the "mosaic" hunts for Nazi war criminals in the decades following the war.
The film is briskly paced and covers a lot of ground. There are several narrators, plenty of archival footage and numerous interviews, including one with Richard Seibel, the American Colonel who led the liberation of Mauthausen, a death camp where Wiesenthal barely managed to survive while his mother did not.
"A collector of information," Wiesenthal worked with the United States and countless collaborators in tracking down such criminals as Adolf Eichmann and Karl Silberbauer, the Nazi who arrested diarist Anne Frank and her family. Wiesenthal is a prolific author and passionately explains his love of books ("sometimes more than people"), which he calls the Jewish people's "monuments."
The film effectively includes a brief tour of Los Angeles' Museum of Tolerance and many events and awards ceremonies, such as the Vienna premiere of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List." But even such a respected figure is nonplussed by the reluctance of Austria's government to convict Nazi criminals in the past two decades, while the basic problem of racism persists in many forms all over the world. Those who ignore the murderers of the past pave the way for the murderers of the future. In Heer and Schmiedel's fine film, Wiesenthal takes on politicians and other targets but is clearly not seeking revenge. Still, his motivation has been "you can only forgive someone for what has happened to yourself, not to others."
--David Hunter, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER