Rating: PG-13, Time: 2hr 2min, Director: Chris Weitz, Cast on IMDb
So what did you make of the story?
I saw the previews and realized this would be the next interesting movie after BlackKklansman 2 weeks ago of serious merit. They cover the story of how Israelis captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the designers of the extermination of 10 million people in the Final Solution. He had escaped from Germany to Austria and finally Argentina. There, his son unknowingly gives his latest girlfriend a clue to the father's identity, kicking into drive the pursuit to capture him and bring him to trial.
All this is just the facts. The story picks up from the Argentina part of the story to simplify the story to the point where they discover him to the capture and trial. So they cover the essentials of the story.
How does it compare to say Argo or the Promise?
Interestingly enough "The Promise", which also stars Oscar Isaac as the lead, helps to rescue his Armenian town from the onslaught of the Turkish genocide and death marches during WWI. This event was a direct precursor to what later happened under Nazi Germany and the Final Solution. Another really great story told in movie form to capture a genocide. I think in "The Promise" the scale of the genocide is brought to light much more than in Operation Finale, which used personal stories of Peter Malkin's family during the Holocaust. Sadly enough, Turkey has never accepted the Armenian Genocide and now is completing a similar action against the Kurds in Turkey.
Looking to Argo, we see a dramatic story of escaping the rapidly distintegration into Islamic fascism with the rise of the Ayatollah Hommeini and how Americas race to escape to freedom after hiding out in the Canadian embassy for x months. Here we find Americans caught up in the aftermath of revolution and resentment of the 1953 coup d'etat staged with the help of the CIA. I think Argo, while following the historical event, added extra drama like almost being captured at the airport, which didn't happen in real life. In Operation Finale, I would say that they played it fairly close to the actual events, which make it a bit less satisfying from a story perspective.
How does it compare to other Holocaust movies?
There are many movies of the Holocaust. One of my favorite's was Schlindler's List. Here we have a German industrialist taking advantage of the slave labor of captured citizens and evolves into a true humanitarian trying to save the Jews in the face of an unstoppable war machine of the Nazis in WWII. I think here we really dive deep into the functioning of the camp systems, focused on the coronel Amon Goeth, who blindly kills Jews for sport in the camp. I think the director captured completely the crazy nature of the camps on how unstoppable it was and possibly how you could only save a few from absolute death as Schlinder did. Strangely enough, Schlinder was so reviled after the war in Germany that he had to emigrate to Israel, which shows how little remorseful the Germans of the war period really were.
How many Nazis escaped to Argentina and how cosy was the relations with the Third Reich?
Horribly enough, there were more than a few escapees to South America in general. I've read stories of a secret submarine that may have gotten some of the top leadership away, but that was never revealed if it was successful. During the 1940s, Peron, president of Argentina actively encouraged the immigration of former Nazis to Argentina, not believing in the Allies and having a big German population, some of which was sympathetic to the Reich.
Another piece to the puzzle was the Vatican's participation in helping Germans escape after the war via Bishop Hudal and later Father Dragonovic establishing ratlines for Nazis to escape, basically an Underground Railroad for the worst war criminals ever.
Another dirty secret of the war was the prized Nazi scientists. Both the USSR and US actively pursued these guys to induct them in military industries of both countries. So even the US was involved in helping some Nazis escape persecution in the name of winning the Cold War. Many of the scientists left voluntarily before the War when Hitler came to power. At the end of the war, Operation BIG specifically captured 9 Nazi Scientists.
Would you change any elements in the film?
I think they had a really excellent costume and character richness in the film, so no changes there. They had some of the elements of suffering, but not much on the history of Eichmann in the film. His crimes are kind of unspoken reality, which we all know, but sometimes we need it spelled out. They did show a few scenes of Eichmann visiting the Eastern Front to participate in the mass executions in graves or part of the death marches. I think for the length of the film, they did well, but the Nazis were more abstract in the story. We never get to Eichmann's fall into the Reich power and how he came to decide on his actions they accuse him of. Of course, the movie is already 2 hours, so what else could you fit it in, but I think it would have helped make him fill in the villain shoes better.
Did you do related art to the movie?
Arbeit Macht Frei - 20 x 24 inches (SOLD)
My artwork dealt with the treatment of the prisoners in the Holocaust death camps, specifically prisoner 109117 or Victor Frankl. He was an Austrian psychiatrist that had visa papers to escape to the US, but his parents did not. So he went with them to the camps. The Nazis burned his research book, so he rewrote it several times in Auschwitz, but was discovered several times and burned again. His wife and parents all perished in the camps, but he went on to write that book and 7 more after the camps. His book proved out that man can separate his physical suffering from mental suffering. In essence, if you find purpose in the suffering, you live, while if you give up hope, you die. I dedicated this work to this man and the Holocaust.
Personally, I lived in Poland in 1989 and you could see the scars of the Nazi occupation on the land and of course the Soviet occupation that was coming to the end. All the Poles hated the Germans and Russians, which I think was reasonable. German language in Polish is "No language" people, so you know they hate them to the core. Many movies were made of that atrocity and of course the Soviet torture system in place in Poland to keep the populace in order.