I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal

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BERLIN -- Few men in modern history deserve more accolades for a life lived bravely and astoundingly against horrific odds than Simon Wiesenthal. The new documentary "I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal" is an entirely worthy account of his torment in the Holocaust and his determination always to remember those who died in it.

Produced by Moriah Films, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Jack and Pearl Resnick docu division, the production appears to be a faithful record of his extraordinary treatment at the hands of the Nazis and his lifelong determination to bring them to justice. Although lacking controversy, the film will be mandatory viewing for audiences willing to bear the ugly face of history and be reminded that the world today is hardly free of war criminals.

Apart from being caught up in some political infighting in Austria and being challenged over his opinion that Austrian leader Kurt Waldheim did not rank high enough to warrant being called a war criminal, the Nazi hunter was widely admired throughout his life. He reminded everyone that not only did 6 million Jews die in the Holocaust but also millions of others, including gypsies and homosexuals.

Using original footage of interviews with Wiesenthal's daughter Pauline and colleagues from over the years, plus the direst film of concentration camp horrors, the film traces the former architect's life through his incarceration in many World War II camps, the murder of 89 family members and his subsequent resolve to punish the guilty.

The cases of all the infamous men and women he hunted down, including Eichmann and Mengele, are presented in illuminating detail.

Wiesenthal is seen in close-up giving interviews to almost every famous broadcaster around the world, and his story never changed. He was not a hero; he was a survivor. Director Richard Trank tells the story unemotionally, and it is all the better for it.

Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Ben Kingsley are featured in the film, but while their names might draw some bonus attention, they do not serve the film especially well. Kidman's narration is flat, and occasionally her emphasis is on the wrong word in a sentence. Perhaps no one had the nerve to correct her. Kingsley has become the new Charlton Heston, prattling on just because he has played some famous historical figures onscreen, albeit including Wiesenthal.

None of that matters, however. The important thing is that the film has been made so that future generations might watch it and point to Wiesenthal and say, "Now there was a man."

I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN YOU: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF SIMON WIESENTHAL
Moriah Films, Cinema Management Group
Credits:
Director: Richard Trank
Screenwriters-producers: Richard Trank, Marvin Hier
Cinematographer: Jeffrey Victor
Editor: Inbal B. Lessner
Music: Lee Holdridge
Narrator: Nicole Kidman
Running time -- 105 minutes
No MPAA rating
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