Monday, April 8, 2013

Short Independent Film Review: The Last Days (1998, DVD 2003), Reviewd by Payman Akhlaghi (2013)

The Last Days (1998, Documentary, 87 mins)
Directed by James Moll
Produced by Ken Lipper
Music by Hans Zimmer
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Winner of the 1999 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature
This review was  first published on April 8th, 2013, at, under The Last Days (1998...) .

The Last Days follows primarily five Hungarian-born Americans and survivors of the Holocaust, as they remember the pain of the past and pay a visit back to their hometowns, and to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Survivors include an artist, a prominent congressman, a businessman, etc. The movie also includes interviews with a historian, and a doctor who was in charge of "human experiments" at the camp, but who was later forgiven at the Nuremberg.

This is one of the finest films made about that tragic catastrophe in human history. The narrative is formalized, yet it's full of moments of emotional immediacy, reinforced by the beautiful score of Hans Zimmer. The survivors recall honestly, remember vividly, and speakl eloquently. Below, I'll produce a transcription of Steven Spielberg's introduction to the film and his Shoah Foundation, the video of which is included on the DVD release of the film.

© 2013, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.
- Sources for dates etc.: IMDB

(*) Steven Spielberg's Introduction to The Shoah Visual History and Education Foundation

"Shoah is the Hebrew word for Holocaust; and Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which I established in 1994, has now videotaped the testimonies of over 50,000 survivors in 57 countries and 33 languages. I consider this the most important work of my life, and the most significant legacy of Schindler's List. Each testimony is a window into the world of the Holocaust before, during, and after the war. We must take this extraordinary wealth of eyewitness evidence, and use the archive for the cause of knowledge, toelrance and mutual respect. And we are developing ways to extend its value beyond the primary preservation of the testimonies.

"The Last Days" takes five survivors back to Hungary to tell us and show us, in their own words, their lives before, during, and after the Holocaust. And most recently, we produced our first educational CD-Rom, and using the tools of modern media and technology, we will bring young people close to the words and faces of men and women who were young themselves over 50 years ago. We have to recognize that people are not born with hatred; they acquire it. We have the responsibility to listen to the voices of history, so that future generations never forget what so few lived to tell."

-- Steven Spielberg
From the 2003 DVD Release of the Film
(Transcription by P.A.)