Nov 1, 2008

God on Trial, November 9th on PBS

When I invited a group of friends to view the PBS screener of God on Trial, no one expressed interest. The holocaust was just too depressing they said. Having lost three male relatives in a Japanese concentration camp, including my grandfather, I felt I HAD to view this film to honor their memory. While it was not an easy drama to watch, I was riveted. I have already seen the screener twice and intend to view it again. There are too few occasions in one's life when a television drama this intelligent and important comes along, and I urge every parent to watch it with their children and every teacher to show it to their class. The lessons of the holocaust and the evils perpetrated by the Nazis must not be lost, and I am afraid that this cataclysmic event is already becoming a dim memory. As importantly, this script is an exploration of man's faith and relationship with God in a way that make one reexamine one's own faith or reaffirm it. We hear many viewpoints and I found myself debating along with the men, and wondering if I would be as emotionally involved in such a discussion hours before my death. Before I knew it, this tense, tightly directed drama was over.

The film is based on the unconfirmed story that a group of Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners consisting of mostly educators, lawyers, and scientists, convened a rabbinical court to put God on trial for abandoning his chosen people. Half the prisoners are spending their last night on earth, but due to the Nazi's cruel methods of choosing their victims, none of them knows who will die in the gas chambers the next day.

The acting is superb. Familiar actors like Rupert Graves (above), Jack Shepherd, (above), Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Stephen Dillane (left), Blake Ritson, and Dominic Cooper (right) are barely recognizable with their shaved heads and wearing prison garb. I imagine all of them must have jumped on the chance to act in such a meaty and riveting story. I was particularly struck by Stephen Dillane's portrayal of Schmidt, a well-educated rabbi. He exuded the same quiet intelligence in this role as he did as Thomas Jefferson in John Adams.

This important film airs on Sunday, November 9th, on the 70th anniversary of Kristellnacht. The video will also stream online the full week after the broadcast.
  • BBC Press Office - find a full synopsis of the story, a behind the scenes video, and full description of the characters and the actors who played them.

No comments: