I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life & Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Richard Trank
Producer : Richard Trank, Marvin Hier
Screenwriter : Richard Trank, Marvin Hier
Starring : Nicole Kidman, Simon Wiesenthal
A production of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in L.A. and narrated by Nicole Kidman (the center's production company, Moriah Films, has teamed up with numerous stars -- Morgan Freeman, Kevin Costner -- to document anti-Semitism and intolerance), I Have Never Forgotten You showcases Wiesenthal's achievements with vintage news clips and recent interviews. Wiesenthal was in the spotlight for so long, the body of video and film material available here is staggering. (He appeared in interviews with every major American and European broadcaster.) And while there is very little controversy in the film -- but much in Wiesenthal's life -- I Have Never Forgotten You brilliantly captures the warmth and determination of this extraordinary man.
Born and raised in a small village in Poland (so small it rarely appears on maps), Wiesenthal's Jewish family was under attack from anti-Semites from the time he was a schoolboy. Graduating with a degree in architecture and marrying his high school sweetheart, Wiesenthal settled down in Austria with the hope of a good career and a family. When Hitler rose to power that all changed very quickly. Separated from his wife, Wiesenthal was dragged through nearly every concentration camp over the course of the war and in each witnessed horrors unimaginable. He lived and so did his wife, but every other member of his family was murdered. Remaining in Austria, Wiesenthal worked with the Americans gathering information to convict Nazi war criminals. When the American courts closed, Wiesenthal continued the hunt. And he continued for over five decades, tracking down Nazis and bringing them to trial.
Some of the more celebrated and notorious captures are in evidence here: Eichmann, Karl Silberbauer (who arrested Anne Frank), Franz Stangl and Hermine Braunsteiner-Ryan. These events are documented with archival newsclips and photos and while they are exciting incidents, the film -- to its benefit -- never panders. Of the many interviews, Sir Ben Kingsley (having played Wiesenthal in an HBO movie) offers some of the more gripping and powerful statements about Wiesenthal. He genuinely seems to have understood the profound sense of grief that drove this man.
There certainly will never be another man like Simon Wiesenthal. While he never wanted to be thought of as a hero -- existing only as an instrument of justice -- Wiesenthal will be forever remembered as someone who embodied everything our culture considers heroic.
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