Monday, December 6, 2021

‘Love It Was Not’ Review: A Difficult Relationship in Auschwitz

The Times aims to review cinematic films during COVID-19 pandemic… Since going to the movies is risky at this time, we remind readers to follow safety and health guidelines. developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials

Could love between a captive and her de facto captor ever be considered legitimate love, especially between a Jewish prisoner of Auschwitz and an SS officer?

This is the difficult question at the heart of Love It Was Not, a uniquely compelling, thoroughly researched documentary by Israeli filmmaker Maya Sarfati, who never settles for simple answers.

Among the first group of women to arrive at the infamous concentration camp in 1942, the dark, robust Helena Citron soon caught the attention of Franz Wunsch, a young high-ranking Austrian officer who initially admired his singing voice, performing a popular German song called “Love It Was Not.”

Instantly amazed, Wunsch not only showed personal kindness to Elena, but also urged him to provide a service that would save the lives of many around, especially her sister Rosa.

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While their feelings were reputedly mutual, Wunsch obsessively cut Elena’s face from photographs taken at Auschwitz and superimposed it on photographs of other people in exotic locations, perhaps to bring her out of the horror around her.

Director Sarfati, who first told the story of Citron in her Academy Award-winning student documentary The Most Beautiful Woman, took this cut and paste up a notch, creating striking photomontages that provide increased engagement, especially during war crimes. Wunsch in 1972. the trial in which Citron was asked to testify.

They combine effectively with interviews with descendants from both families and surprisingly vivid testimonials from several surviving contemporaries of Auschwitz.

Citron, who died in 2007, might have later called their date a “passing fad”, but in Sarfati’s hands it was strongly reflected 80 years later.

“The love that didn’t exist”

Hebrew, German and English with English subtitles

Not rated

Duration: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Plays: Kicks off November 5, Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino

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