Synopsis by Mark Deming
Kurt Gerron was an actor, filmmaker, and musician who rose to acclaim and stardom in Germany in the late '20s and early '30s. Gerron appeared in The Blue Angel alongside Marlene Dietrich, starred in the inaugural production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's groundbreaking The Threepenny Opera, and directed a string of successful movie musicals. Gerron, however, was also a Jew, and while he had the good sense to flee to Amsterdam after the early Nazi programs when Holland fell under Axis occupation, he was later deported back to Germany. Unable to join such colleagues as Peter Lorre and Billy Wilder in the United States, Gerron found himself using his talents acting in vile Nazi propaganda films such as Der Ewige Jude (aka The Eternal Jew), and was finally forced to direct Theresienstadt (1944, aka The Fuhrer Gives a City to the Jews), a remarkable bit of fabrication which portrayed one of the Third Reich's death camps as a safe haven for Jewish refugees. Gerron's reward for his hard work on the film was a one-way trip in a railroad car to a gas chamber. Prisoner of Paradise is a documentary which chronicles Gerron's remarkable and tragic life story, in which his desire to create and his need to work in the limelight led him to both betrayal and his doom. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature Documentary.
concentration-camp, Holocaust, film-director, filmmaker, Nazi, propaganda