Monday, March 22, 2021

Erez Perey's THE INTERROGATION, a landmark film, finally arrives in the USA via home video


Made back in 2016, THE INTERROGATION -- the Israeli film co-written (with Sari Turgeman) and directed by Erez Perey (shown below) -- has taken five years to find release here in the USA, thanks to the estimable and risk-taking distributor, Corinth Films. This half-decade delay is due less, TrustMovies opines, to the film's subject matter than to the manner in which that content is handled and the resulting landmark achievement. (Though the film played at various festivals, it never, so far as I can see, found any theatrical or home video release till now.)

A narrative (done in documentary style) based upon the autobiography of Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss, the longest-serving commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the movie deals with the interrogation of Höss (played by Romanus Fuhrmann, below) by Albert Piotrowski (Maciej Marczewski, two photos below) the  younger Polish investigative judge, chosen in part because of his command of the German language and his ability to better communicate with Höss. 

What the film achieves so well -- better than anything I've so far seen -- is finally helping us understand how "civilized" Germans in the military could have done what they did to the victims in these camps. Yes, it humanizes the perpetrators -- but without in any way lessening the horror of their despicable deeds. 

As The Interrogation progresses, you will finally be able to understand something of what those in charge of the genocide were thinking, feeling and experiencing. This is important in coming to terms with both how The Holocaust happened and how this kind of all-out atrocity might be prevented. 

Mr. Perey's style as both writer and director is to stick as closely to the facts and record as possible, with little dialog given to either the interrogator's own history (we know he is married, with a child who is very ill) or the defendant's personal history -- except in  terms of how that history affected his later acts as camp commander.

All this -- along with the excellent, close-to-the-vest performances from the two leading actors -- forces us to stay on track, our minds primarily concerned with how Herr Höss could have acted as he did. Perey is a subtle filmmaker, allowing minimal amounts of information to carry maximum weight and small changes of facial expression to stand in for what, in other hands, might be reams of dialog.

Visually, the film is a pleasure to view, color- and composition-wise. Even the near-silent visit of a woman (is this his wife, or a prostitute?), below, to the interrogator's hotel room offers the opportunity to imagine how very restrained -- in so many ways -- is this fellow's sad life.

In a mere 83 minutes, the movie manages to move and surprise us, open our eyes and minds, and maybe leaving us murmuring that oft-heard, if seemingly ever-less-hopeful mantra, Never Again!

From Corinth Films, in German and Polish with English subtitles, The Interrogation finally hits home video on DVD and digital streaming (Amazon Prime members can watch as part of their subscription) this Tuesday, March 23 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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