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 Skarsgård, 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.
- PBS Masterpiece Contemporary: The Actors and Characters
- 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.