Sunday, May 21, 2006


deals with the Catholic Church & the Holocaust

Note: The Catholic church tried to have this poster banned but failed.

GERMAN CHEMIST KURT GERSTEIN DEVELOPS " ZYCLON B " as a disinfectant & discovers the SS is using it to kill Jews .
This horrifies him & he tries to leak this info to the world but it
appears no one not even Pope Pius XII want to do anything about it.

Directed by

Writing credits
Jean-Claude Grumberg

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ulrich Tukur .... Kurt Gerstein
Mathieu Kassovitz .... Riccardo Fontana
Ulrich Mühe .... Doctor
Michel Duchaussoy .... Cardinal
Ion Caramitru .... Count Fontana
Marcel Iures .... Pope
Friedrich von Thun .... Gerstein's Father
Antje Schmidt .... Mrs. Gerstein
Hanns Zischler .... Grawitz
Sebastian Koch .... Höss
Erich Hallhuber .... Von Rutta
Burkhard Heyl .... Director
Angus MacInnes .... Tittman
Bernd Fischerauer .... Bishop Von Gallen
Pierre Franckh .... Pastor Wehr

running time 132minutes

Anyway so I saw the disturbing Costa Gavras, 2002 film “ AMEN ” . The film is an indictment of Pope Pius Xii & the Catholic Church & of those leaders in the allied nations who did little or nothing to try to stop the murder of millions of Jews & other undesirables . The story centres around the real-life Kurt Gerstein a German chemist who developed the chemical “ Zyclon B” as a disinfectant but soon discovers the SS is using it as a method of extermination of the Jews & others designated as “ undesirable vermin” in order to purify Germany & Europe . Kurt Gerstein continues to work for the Nazi SS while trying to get this information out to the world but no one seems to either to believe what he says or they do not really care. A German Jesuit priest Father Riccardo Fontana joins Gerstein in attempting to inform the Catholic church in Germany which leads nowhere so Father Fontana goes to the Vatican to inform the Pope of the atrocities being committed. The Pope does nothing about it because he has allied himself with the Nazis against the Communists whom he saw as a greater threat than the Nazis . The Vatican is also more concerned with its own survival than with stopping such a slaughter of non-Christians . Anti-Semitism was always a hallmark of the Catholic Church though it is not politically correct these days to say this though history illustrates this attitude over & over again from at least the time of the First Crusade in 1092 when the Crusading Peoples Army first started out from northern Europe they went from one country to another murdering all the Jews they could find. The killing of Jews by Christians both Catholic & Protestant continued down ,at least, to the time of World War II .

The film Amen begins with a parade of Nazis playing music as a group of children & adults watch whom we discover are Mentally Retarded who are then bussed to an institution & are told to strip to take a shower & then they are gassed . The German church leaders discover what is going on & openly protest & so the Nazis embarrassed by this supposedly stops killing the mentally retarded & other unproductive Germans . Yet the church having been informed of the slaughter of the Jews refuses to use its power to save the Jews since they are not Christian Baptized German citizens & are therefore not their concern.

In the film Gerstein chooses to continue to work for the Nazi SS he says ,in order, to act as a witness to what is going on.

At the end of the war he is arrested as a War Criminal though he tells them everything he knows about the Extermination of the Jews & Gypsies ( Romani) & so he ends by committing suicide.

Father Riccardo in desperation decides he can not stand by puts a star of David on his clothes & gets himself put on one of the transport trains heading to one of the death camps & spends his last days as an inmate while watching the on-going slaughter .

Though the Catholic Church & the Vatican does not help the Jews we see the Vatican at the end of the war helping Nazi war criminals to escape justice. It is no wonder that Catholics & the Vatican attacked the film.

But the film also indicts the allies for not publicly condemning the German Nazis for murdering Jews & for not taking action such as bombing the transport trains, the railway tracks or the Death Camps themselves.

The lie we are sometimes told is the World War II was fought by the Allies in part to stop the Extermination of the Jews & others but there is little truth in this.

The British for instance fought in order to stop the Nazi invasion of Great Britain & therefore save themselves & so they needed to defeat the Nazi Regime .

The Americans were uninterested in the War until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor & then they realized it was also in their interest to declare war on Germany since Germany & Japan were allies .

I found the film to be intense & powerful especially the recurring image of the trains with their doors open & the cars empty traveling swiftly day & night nothing stops them - no matter what happens the trains continue to carry their human cargo to the death camps as a result of German bureaucratic efficiency - this image of the trains becomes relentless & is as devastating as an image as would be images of the Jews being slaughtered enmass.

Costa Gavras film Amen is as effective & disturbing as his other films such as his other controversial films "Missing" & “Z”& State of Siege & Betrayed.


Posted by Picasa

“ Missing ” 1982 starring Jack Lemmon & Sissy Spacek is about the American backed bloody Military Coup in Chile of 1973 which overthrew the legally elected President Allende who led a coalition government & who unfortunately wanted to improve the living conditions of the people of Chile & so was not a friend of the rich & powerful in Chile who were supported by the Americans & especially the large American corporations which had vast investments in Chile. The film centres around the true story of the disappearance of an American Charles Horman who disappeared like thousands of Chileans who supported President Allende

The 1969 film “ Z ”by Costa Gavras deals with the death of a populist leader in Greece who wants to bring down the corrupt military regime in Greece. In the course of the film we discover the events leading up to the murder of the populist leader who is referred to as “Z ” & the conspiracy by the Generals & members of the Greek government to have him killed .

And as the film critic Pauline Kael says about “Z”:

“Z is almost intolerably exciting - a political thriller that builds up so much tension that you'll probably feel all knotted up by the time it's over. The young director Costa-Gavras, using everything be knows to drive home his points as effectively as possible, has made something very unusual in European films - a political film with a purpose and, at the same time, a thoroughly commercial film. Z is undoubtedly intended as a political act, but it never loses emotional contact with the audience. It derives not from the traditions of the French film but from American gangster movies and prison pictures and "anti-Fascist" melodramas of the forties (Cornered, Crossfire, Brute Force, All the King's Men, Edge of Darkness, The Cross of Lorraine, et al.), and, like those pictures, it has a basically simple point of view. America stopped making this kind of melodrama (melodrama was always the chief vehicle for political thought in our films) during the McCarthy era, so Costa-Gravas has-the advantage of bringing back a popular kind of movie and of bringing it back in modem movie style. Z has been photographed by Raoul Coutard, Godard's cameraman, in Eastmancolor used in a very strong, almost robust way, and although the photography is perhaps a little too self-consciously dynamic and, at times, not as hard-focused as it might be, the searching, active style doesn't allow you to get away. Remember when the movie ads used to say, "It will knock you out of your seat"? Well, Z damn near does.

There hasn't been an exciting anti-Fascist suspense film around for a long time, and the subject of Z is so good that the audience is not likely to resent the use of melodramatic excitement the way it would now if the film were anti-Communist, like those Hollywood films of the early fifties in which our boy Gregory Peck was ferreting out Communist rats. Z is based on the novel by the Greek exile Vassili Vassilikos about the assassination of Gregorios Lambraki, in Salonika, in May, 1963...”

In the film “ BETRAYED ” Costa Gravas takes on the subject of the Extreme Right in the United States & their belief that the US government is in the hands of the Liberal Elite & Jews & therefore the Extreme Right believe it is their duty to bring down the Federal Government.

Keeping the message in the movie
Costa-Gavras returns with Mad City

and check out reviews by Roger Ebert
as he says in his intro to his review of “ Z ”
“There are some things that refuse to be covered over. It would be more convenient, yes, and easier for everyone if the official version were believed. But then the facts begin to trip over one another, and contradictions emerge, and an "accident" is revealed as a crime.”

AND on the career & politics of Costa Gravas see::

Also see controversy over the poster for the film in France:

Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 15:17 GMT
Swastika film poster escapes ban

Constantin Costa-Gavras's film is about a wartime pope
A French court has refused to ban a controversial film poster which merges a crucifix with a Nazi swastika.

On Thursday, Paris judge Jean-Claude Magendie ruled there was no legal objection to the poster that would warrant limiting freedom of expression.

The poster was designed by Oliviero Toscani, the Italian photographer behind the controversial Benetton adverts, and promotes the film Amen, which examines the Vatican's silence during the Holocaust.

It tells the story of real-life SS officer Kurt Gerstein, who tries to tell the world, and the Vatican in particular, about the Holocaust while simultaneously supplying poison gas to the Nazi camps.

The public silence of the Vatican during the widespread atrocities of World War II is arguably the most controversial issue in the Catholic Church's wartime history.


Wartime pope, Pius XII, has been accused in the past of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust, although the Vatican has defended him, arguing that he worked behind the scenes to save Jews.

Poster of Amen in France
The film's director, Constantin Costa-Gravas, has defended the poster
The poster has also offended France's Roman Catholic bishops, but they have not publicly asked for it to be withdrawn.

Ten of France's most prominent Jews also voiced their discontent, including Chief Rabbi Rene-Samuel Sirat, although they have disassociated themselves from Agrif and the court action.

"We consider this amalgam of the Nazi emblem with a religious symbol to be unhealthy," the Jewish leaders said in a statement, which appeared in the weekly Christian magazine La Vie on Thursday.

And so it goes. Anyway that’s all for now.

No comments: