Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interval Two - Some "Good" Films

Welcome to Interval Two! This the second of the Interval pages of the blog A Ball for Genia.
These interval pages provide space where you can join  in with your valued comments and opinions.  And you will recall that there are two other sites, besides the blog itself, where you can express your opinion: The Facebook page also titled A Ball for Genia, and the dedicated e-mail address geniaball*at*

First off, we thought you might find it  interesting, kind reader, to review some films and open up a discussion on the films about the Holocaust that may have moved you.  We would love to hear your ideas on this, but first, a review from one of The Group, the one named Thora.

Good is a film based on the stage play by C.P. Taylor (adapted by John Wrathall for the screen) and stars Viggo Mortensen, Jason Issacs, Jodie Whittaker, and also includes Steven Elder.  It was directed by Vincente Amorim and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 8 September 2008.
As I have some inside knowledge of this production, I thought I would share it with you.
Good the film was released in 2008.  It took 10 years to bring this film to the cinema, after a lot of long, hard work and dedication by the producer, Miriam Segal.  The film is based on a hugely popular stage play, by C.P. Taylor, which was originally staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Donmar Warehouse in September 1981, starring Alan Howard.  The play was brought to Broadway after that, and continues to be staged internationally.  I have met people who saw it on stage, and never forgot it.

This is a story that starts in 1933 about a man, in Germany, who is a “good” man, John Halder, a professor of literature at a German University.  His best friend is Maurice Gluckstein, a psychiatrist.  They fought together in WWI in the trenches, for their country.  They laugh about the Nazi Party sometimes over a stein (or two) of beer, and how Hitler is a joke.  They live their sometimes difficult lives with wives, children, incapacitated mothers, lovers.  But of course, there is something bigger than either of them coming, and that will change both of them.

Halder has written a book, a novel, about euthanasia.  This brings him to the attention of the Nazi Party.  From that point on, he is drawn into the regime.  It is a terrible story, whereby he gains something, but loses everything.

I find the acting in this film superb.  There are no caricatures, no stereotypes.  The choice of actor for Halder took many years because the producer had some difficulty in pulling everything together.  But Viggo Mortenson is perfect as Halder.  David Issacs plays Gluckstien, and he was on board from the first, and is also a co-producer.  He is a revelation.  Other characters in the film were on board early, including Steven Elder as Adolph Eichmann.

Viggo Mortenson and Steven Elder as Halder and Eichmann.
Every character in the film is a human being.  Eichmann is a bit of a geek.  Halder is a normal man, as are his wives, first and second.  These are real people, living real lives, and being sucked in to the horrendous outcome of the Nazi regime.  It is a very powerful film, and highly recommended.

And now another exquisite little film to share with you, The Porcelain Unicorn. 
The Philips Parallel Lines: Tell It Your Way film contest invited people to make a short film, no longer than three minutes, that contained these lines as its dialogue:

What’s That?
It’s a Unicorn
Never seen one up close before
Get away, get away
I’m sorry.

The winner, as judged by acclaimed director Ridley Scott, was the little gem that is The Porcelain Unicorn. You can click the name to view it on You Tube.  How writer/director/editor Keegan Wilcox could craft such a perfect film from those six lines is truly insprational.  As overall winner of the Tell It Your Way contest, Keegan Wilcox will now enjoy a potentially career-making opportunity of a week’s work experience at Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) offices, 7 nights’ accommodation, spending money and the new Full HD 3D Cinema 21:9 Platinum series TV from Philips.  We hope he goes on to a long and fulfilling career in filmmaking.

What are your most memorable and moving films about the Holocaust?

Finally, we all know the sad story that was Anne Frank’s.   There have been many excellent re-tellings of her story in film and television, in many languages, over the years, since the publication of her diary.

Anne was a bright spirit:  Here is one of her diary entries —

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation  consisting of confusion, misery and death.

Episode Three of A Ball for Genia will be published on Monday November 5th. To access the blog, just click on the link at the side where you can see all the blog posts so far.  But please remember, Episode Three won't be viewable until Monday, November 5th!

In Episode Three, we will again meet Genia and Luisa, Maury, Dolek and Sharon (the fighting couple!), Marek, Mrs. Winkelman, and the Rabbi; also Itzhak, the angry man, who is going to direct his anger at the poor, unsuspecting Rabbi!

And again, please don't forget to check into the A Ball For Genia Facebook page where you are invited to tell what you think about the play, and, of course, your reaction to the Holocaust.  And please send us an email with any comments to  Also new:  A Ball For Genia has a Twitter account at @ABallForGenia.  If you are on Twitter, please follow us.

And as always, thank you for your help in enhancing the goal of Holocaust Remembrance.

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