Magazine article New Internationalist

Amen (Eyewitness) Directed by Costa-Gavras

Magazine article New Internationalist

Amen (Eyewitness) Directed by Costa-Gavras

Article excerpt

Constantin Costa-Gavras, perhaps cinema's best-known political filmmaker, has been directing films since the 1960s. Many of them dramatize real-life events, and like Z, State of Siege and Missing, heroic resistance to political violence. After working in Hollywood, his latest film, Amen, is a welcome return to the real world and to politics.

In France it has generated a tumult of controversy, provoked by the publicity poster - a hybrid crucifix-cum-swastika, which neatly alludes to the film's subject - the relationship between the Nazis and the Vatican, and the Church's silence about the extermination camps.

Amen follows the efforts of an SS officer (based on a real person) and a priest to tell the world the truth. Kurt Gerstein (Ulrich Tukur) is a devout Christian and the inventor of Zyklon-B gas - to poison insects and vermin, not people. Called up into the SS, he soon learns about the mass extermination programme. When he fails to persuade his Protestant church leaders to tell the German people, he approaches a Jesuit priest (Mathieu Kassowitz) with Vatican connections. …

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