THE DARK SIDE
You thought you’d never see the dark side of the moon, let alone on my ridiculous little web site — but here it is. (Technically “the far side,” as it’s only dark to us.)
A SIDE OF THE PRESIDENT YOU HAVEN’T SEEN EITHER
You have GOT to see this video. Not only is it very funny, it will actually be important to someone you know who has just a couple days left to sign up.
THE TRUE DARK SIDE
Jeremy Gerard’s review speaks for itself:
In April 1945, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force ordered that footage shot by combat and newsreel cameramen during the liberation of Occupied Europe be aggregated into a documentary film that would be shown to the German prisoners of war as irrefutable proof of what had occurred under the Nazi regime. The producer . . . eventually brought Alfred Hitchcock over to help organize the footage and accompanying narration. (Later, Billy Wilder would also be brought in to work on the documentary.)
The resulting film has the unglamorous yet unassailably apt title German Concentration Camps Factual Study. HBO has begun showing Night Will Fall, a documentary about the making of the documentary that includes several minutes of the footage. On Tuesday night I saw the complete film in Los Angeles at the Museum Of Tolerance . . . The audience included representatives from various foreign consulates, clergy and community leaders, and a number of survivors with first-hand knowledge of what we were about to see.
The film is unabashedly shocking . . . The battle-worn cameramen took great care to record what they witnessed so as to obviate any possible charge that the footage was staged. There are long, uninterrupted shots of indescribable inhumanity, of impossibly starved bodies, hollowed cheeks, dead eyes open wide and smashed skulls; of the officers and town folk forced to by the Allied troops to drag the surreal stick figures from the typhus-breeding barracks or frozen ground where they lay snow-covered and naked, to the pits that had been bull-dozed for mass graves, each marked with an estimated number of the bodies within: 5,000 in one plot after the next. The cameras movie unblinkingly into the gas chambers, with their Zyklon cannisters, and crematoriums still smoldering and filled with ash and bone.
Not long after the film began, I heard weeping from the couple sitting in front of me, both of them survivors there by invitation. The husband, sobbing, kept telling his wife not to look, shielding her eyes lovingly. Yet he was the one who finally whispered, “I wasn’t prepared for this” as he reached for his walker and quietly left the auditorium. A few minutes later, his wife followed. I would say I know how they felt, but of course I have no idea. I do know how I felt, which was taken to the edge of a bottomless chasm. It was almost impossible to walk out into the night.
It is all one long river of struggle to learn to live with each other: literally trillions of tiny individual acts of kindness and meanness; tens of millions of slightly broader choices (build 28 new Third World schools or update one beautiful First World condo lobby?*); thousands of vastly broader ones (invade? free the slaves? give women the vote? allow unionization?) — all shocked by occasional earthquakes of aggression, madness and horror I count myself spectacularly fortunate to have experienced only second-hand, through reports like these.
(Too heavy? Monday or Tuesday: household tips or kittens or something. Oh! Or this laugh-out-loud report on Peoria Congressman Aaron Shock. Have a great President’s Day weekend.)