An extended opening sequence to the prolixly titled “Chronicle of the Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto According to Marek Edelman” begins with a beautiful montage of archival b&w footage of people in slow motion set to music, creating an almost ballet-like feel and an arrested sense of movement that transcends its newsreel source. The images give way to slo-mo shots of brutality and people entering railway cars as the scenes move from 1940 to 1943, ending with the final assault on the Warsaw Ghetto. Powerful short docu will find welcome at fests and venues that accommodate Holocaust-themed offerings.
Opening coda is followed by a medium talking-head shot of Edelman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Uprising, who narrates a day-by-day chronicle of both the defiance and subsequent survival of those who resisted Nazi annihilation.
Also in b&w, Edelman’s memories are presented chronologically, marked by dates that appear on the corner of the screen, days that tick past as the survivors look for a getaway. Edelman is one of about 50 Jews who eventually managed to escape through the sewers to another part of the city. Through leisurely timing and skillful use of archival material, Jolanta Dylewska infuses the film with almost hypnotic power as we follow Edelman’s tale of death and survival in an act of unparalleled bravery, as the Jews resist deportation to certain death at Treblinka. The film is a testament to this bravery as well as an indictment of man’s inhumanity to man.