I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN YOU
A comprehensive look at the life and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal (1908 - 2005), the famed Nazi hunter and humanitarian, including interviews with longtime Wiesenthal associates, government leaders from around the world, friends and family members, many of whom have never discussed the legendary Nazi hunter on camera. Previously unseen archival film and photos are also included in the film, which explores what was the driving force behind his work, what kept him going when for years the odds were against his efforts - and what is his legacy today, more than 60 years after the end of World War II. The film also probes into his life as a family man, and how his determined focus on his life's work impacted on his wife and daughter.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In this obviously loving, respectful and generous documentary, Simon Wiesenthal is presented as a lone warrior on the trail of Nazi war criminals. While the bias is evident, it doesn't detract from the film's compelling and compleat portrait of a man whose formidable determination was made admirable by his refusal to engage in revenge. In one of the many clips of him through the years, he says "you can't hate forever". Indeed, when asked at the tail end of his life, how he saw himself, he said "A researcher, that's all." He always insisted on "hard evidence, moderate language" in his unique task.
He declined to denounce Kurt Waldheim (who coincidentally died the day I previewed this film), for example, because of the lack of hard evidence that proved he was a war criminal - which is not necessarily the same as being a Nazi. This film puts Wiesenthal and his work in context, examining his motivation, which was to enable justice to take its course. He couldn't give up because once he started, he felt it was his duty to continue, to serve the memory of the millions who died, including everyone in his own extended family. This sense of duty drove him, and it's ironic to note that so many of the Nazis would often use the excuse that they, too, were just doing their duty.
With the richness of archival materials to work with, the filmmakers have produced a remarkable insight that is compelling from start to finish, as it is a fascinating historical document but most of all a complex portrait of a singular human being who made a difference. The choice of a female voice, Nicole Kidman, for the narration, is a valid counterpoint to the content and softens the film's tone, drawing the audience into the complex web of the human condition that the subject offers.
And for all the dark deeds that are summonsed from the past, the most insistent message of the film, as it is Wiesenthal's, is simply to remember.
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I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN YOU (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Simon Wiesenthal
NARRATION: Nicole Kidman
PRODUCER: Richard Trank, Marvin Hire
DIRECTOR: Richard Trank
SCRIPT: Richard Trank, Marvin Hire
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeff Victor
EDITOR: Inbal B. Lessner
MUSIC: Lee Holdridge
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Jump St Films
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 26, 2007 (Hayden Orpheum, Sydney/Melbourne)