You might have noticed that I've been championing a new documentary from Yael Hersonski called A Film Unfinished. The new feature takes propaganda footage from the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII -- which has been used in the past as historical document -- and reveals the "cinematic deception" of the frames. Hersonski outlines how many of the scenes of "real life" were crafted by the filmmakers to try and show a hideous disconnect between the Ghetto's "rich Jews and poor Jews" -- scenes of passerby walking over corpses are juxtaposed with lavish dinners (entirely crafted by the Nazis) and entertainment (where people were beaten if they didn't look like they were having enough fun).

It is a harrowing account, for sure, but also a worthy one. However, the documentary has now hit a snag, getting an R rating from the MPAA, which has inspired the Beastie Boys' (and Oscilloscope founder) Adam Yauch to speak out.
In a press release, Oscilloscope Laboratories has announced that they will appeal the R rating, given to the film for "disturbing images of holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity." By banning people under the age of 17 from viewing the film without their parent/guardian, the rating will keep the documentary out of classrooms and educational venues.

Adam Yauch says: "This is too important of a historical document to ban from classrooms. While there's no doubt that Holocaust atrocities are displayed, if teachers feel their students are ready to understand what happened, it's essential that young people are given the opportunity to see this film. Why deny them the chance to learn about this critical part of our human history? I understand that the MPAA wants to protect children's eyes from things that are too overwhelming, but they've really gone too far this time. It's bullshit."

I'm with Yauch 100%. Yes, there is graphic nudity in the film. There are shots of the piles of dead, naked Jewish residents waiting for mass burial. There is another scene where Jewish men and women were forced (at gun point) to strip and bathe together. It's incredibly hard to watch.

But it's also incredibly important to watch. Though, as A Film Unfinished points out, it can dangerous, film and photographs are essential to understanding and comprehending the atrocities and impact of tragedies like the Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, and every other bit of violence that has, does, and will happen in the world. Words, in this case, simply aren't enough.

The fact that the MPAA could get through that film and all the horror within -- the piles of feces because there was nowhere to get rid of it, sunken faces and jutting bones clearly outlining some people's last days, children starving, violence, and humiliation -- and still be scandalized by skin, is just plain sad. I pity these people who could go through this important cinematic experience and still come out fearing the human body's impact on young eyes, rather than the championing the importance of the film and the horrors it documents.
categories Movies, Cinematical