The Shock Of The Beauty

By Pamela Clements (C), Sydney, Australia, May 2015


Lessons of Survival: Conversations with Simon Wiesenthal

Created and Directed by Inna Rogatchi

I saw Inna Rogatchi’s film Lessons of Survival: Conversations with Simon Wiesenthal at the Jewish International Film Festival in Sydney in March. It stays with me still – the beauty of this extraordinary film, the shock of the beauty.

Simon Wiesenthal set up his office in the former Nazi headquarters in Vienna. There! The fear evoked by that idea almost takes one’s breath away, the courage of the idea makes one want to cheer, to exult in Jewish survival. All that force, cruelty, calculation, war machinery, suffering, and now Simon Wiesenthal can base his search for justice against the perpetrators right at their core.  

Inna positioned her camera over the stair in the former Nazi headquarters, looking down. Architectural, symmetrical, painterly and breathtakingly beautiful in colour, light and form, this frame creates a beautiful and terrifying vortex, down which one felt one’s self inexorably drawn and hurtled into oblivion.

Simon Wiesenthal’s face, as he was interviewed by Inna, and the brief shot of young Inna deeply listening to Wiesenthal – these were beautiful, painterly, profound moments in the film. The film’s photography, composition, lighting, colour, pacing is beautiful, even in the camps. I felt almost “blasted” as I experienced the beauty of this film.

And so at the Q & A after the film, I asked Inna: “Can you speak to us about the beauty of your film?” How could a film about such horrors be inspired, created and manifested in beauty? Inna’s answer: “That is the point.”

Don’t miss this film. Allow yourself to experience the film’s beauty as well as its historical significance, and to feel the presence of Simon Wiesenthal and honour his remarkable courage and achievement. Open yourself to “The Point”.

Rating: 5/5 (or whatever the top rating is).Pamela Clement is internationally recognised architectural acoustic consultant, specialising in musicology