Synopsis by Mark Deming
French/Israeli filmmaker Eyal Sivan has fashioned an unusual documentary about the Holocaust from video footage (originally shot for American television) of the 1961 trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Using sophisticated editing techniques and digital image manipulation to give the visuals a distinctive look, Un Specialiste/The Specialist focuses less on Eichmann as the monstrous architect of one of the 20th century's most heinous crimes, and more on a subtly terrifying notion: Eichmann was a seemingly ordinary and mild-mannered fellow who was also capable of planning the mass evacuation of Jews and other "undesirables" to extermination camps, denying any legal responsibility with the words: "That was unfortunate, but it wasn't my fault." Along with extensive footage of Eichmann's testimony, Sivan also devotes significant screen time to testimony of survivors of the death camps. Un Specialiste/The Specialist was screened at the 1999 Berlin Film Festival's as part of a special program entitled "Documents Against Forgetting." The director incorporated vintage footage shot by Leo Hurwitz (who died in 1991), explaining his cinematographer credit on the film.
Holocaust, mastermind, murder, Nazism, trial [courtroom], war-crimes