Opening 1 Nov 2007
This very successful documentary film includes an enormous amount of historical footage as well as interviews to recreate a complete lifeline of Simon Wiesenthal. In this labor of love and dedication the team researched old footage, historical facts and interviews for months in order to compile this detailed portrait of the man known as the Nazi hunter. Born in a small town in the Ukraine, Wiesenthal studied to become an architect, a profession which he never practised due to World War II. He lost 89 members of his family in the concentration camps, and it was a miracle that he and his wife found each other after the war was over. After the war, he lived directly across from the cemetery where Hitler’s parents were buried.
The film is full of shocking surprises which illustrate Simon Wiesenthal’s strength of character. For example, he moved to Vienna, saying, “If you want to cure malaria you must live with the mosquitoes.” First, he opens an office and begins to compile information on missing people in order to reunite families. This work leads to him tracing those people responsible for atrocities that happened in the concentration camps. In the end he brought 1100 criminals to trial. He also proved to the world that not only Jews but also gypsies and homosexuals were in the camps as well. The public did not always love him for his trouble, but he persevered nevertheless. It is because of him that we have the Crimes against Humanity Court in The Netherlands today.
In a press conference after the film Ben Kingsley spoke about his role of Simon Wiesenthal. And (like Dennis Haybert from Goodbye Bufana), he said it was a very humbling experience. Having also played Gandhi, Kingsley said in both cases it was an honor to play great men who have changed history. He also said that Simon Wiesenthal was incapable of hating people, which was why he could seek out justice in the impartial manner that he did. It is no wonder that many people see him as the “Conscience of the Holocaust.” (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)