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on January 19, 2004
A film by James Moll
Winner of the 1998 Academy Award for Best Documentary
I do not feel that I have the words to adequately describe this film and my reaction to it. I have seen "Schindler's List", it is a powerful, haunting film. While it is based on a real event of the Shoah, it is still a fictional film. There are actors playing parts and despite the brutality we see in the movie, everyone goes home at the end of the day. What makes "The Last Days" so much more powerful is that the five primary interviewees are survivors of the Holocaust. They are telling their stories of their lives and their experiences of Hitler's Final Solution. There is actual video footage, and photographs from the time, and it is still shocking to hear and to see, and I would suggest that it remains necessary to hear and to see.
This is the story of five Jews from Hungary. They tell of their experiences before, during, and after the war. They were all in various camps: Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen. Their stories are incredible, and since the stories are being told by the men and women who experienced the Holocaust, they are all the more powerful. We learn how they were rounded up and put into the train cars, what they thought, why they didn't actively resist, and what happened to the rest of their families. We also get to see them each go back for the first time to the concentration camps they were held in. They are with their children, and are revealing little details, mostly painful, as they remember them. One man, as he walks through the gates says that even after all these years, the memories are just as fresh as when he was a prisoner.
I don't feel that my description does this film justice. It is a beautiful, powerful, and ultimately necessary movie. Despite the fact that we may have heard various stories of the Holocaust over the years, we still need to hear these stories because pretty soon there will be nobody left alive who lived through it, and these stories will be all that is left. These are important stories, and "The Last Days" does an exceptional job at telling these five stories.
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This documentary of five Hungarian survivors of the holocaust is not a comfortable movie to watch. We cannot make believe that it is an re-enactment by actors; we are not distanced from it by the general news clips. Instead, this tightly edited film brings five individual stories of real people to the screen with a scorching reality. In the last six months of WWII, Hitler concentrated his resources in deporting 440,000 Hungarian Jews even after he knew the war was lost. The five people in the documentary, then teenagers, were caught up in this brutal chapter of history, and each one tells his or her story against a backdrop of rare footage of films that were taken by the Nazis. Now in their late 60s and 70s, each one of these survivors, surrounded by loving families, visit the scene of the devastation, and tell their stories.
Steven Spielberg is the executive producer of this small gem of a film, a memorial to the horrible truth, and I am sure it is his name which brings this film to movie theaters, where I first saw this film. The theater complex on had only two showings -- at noon and at 4:55 p.m. I cannot help but wonder why it was deemed unfit for Saturday night viewing, because every seat was taken in the tiny theater. I cried, and heard the sobbing of the people around me. It was that kind of film. The human beings on the screen were so real. Their stories so true. Their lives so shattered. And then rebuilt. A living testimony to the survival of the human spirit. It's a testimony also of what can be done with film. How a history can be preserved. How snapshots of real life can be recorded. As I left the theater, my eyes swollen from crying, my soul sick from what I have just seen, there were lines of people waiting to get into see the latest romantic comedy, the newest thriller, the silliest cartoons. My heart was still beating wildly as I gulped the fresh air outside the theater and walked slowly home, the horror and the history still touching my raw nerves. I cannot help but think about the other sad stories in history that cry out to be memorialized in this way. And the fact that without a big name like Spielberg, or the proper funding, these stories will never be told. But why do we need to know? What good does it do? How can it change our lives to relive over and over again the many atrocities of humankind? The answer lives in the perspective it gives us as we go about our lives. We are only a part of the continuum of history. It is luck or karma or just the random winds of life that give us our lives of abundance. And when I pause, and think about it seriously, I can only give thanks for my wonderful life.
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This award winning documentary should be viewed often and by everyone, because those who don't know history well are condemned to repeat it; the voices that survived to tell of the horror of the Holocaust also speak of the naivete during the rise of Hitler, and California Congressman Tom Lantos, one of the survivors interviewed for this film, states this fact eloquently.

The documentary focuses on five Hungarian-born Jews, and the harrowing stories of their lives, as well as others, like Hans Munch, a doctor who took part in the Nazi experiments conducted in Auschwitz, and three members of the U.S. Army, who entered Dachau to liberate it, and were faced with a living hell.

The survivors return to Auschwitz, to see the place of their suffering, to say Kaddish for their relatives who were murdered, and to visit the their birthplace in Hungary; one town, which until the early '40s had a thriving Jewish community, has now not a trace left...what little Hitler left of it, the Soviets finished, in their zeal to eradicate everything and everyone with a Jewish heritage.

Interspersed with the interviews is wrenching archive footage of the Holocaust, a vision of pure evil that mankind can sink to, and can do so again if we dull our awareness to those of hateful ideologies, who seek to terrorize and destroy.

Executive Producer Steven Spielberg calls this film his most important work, and I agree with him. Directed with great sensitivity by James Moll, and with an affecting score by Hans Zimmer, it is a gripping testament to those who must not be forgotten. Total running time is 87 minutes.
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on January 8, 2000
A picture is worth a thousand words. And so a *moving* picture, clipping along at the rate of 24 frames per second, has the potential to be priceless. THE LAST DAYS proves that, and does so powerfully and with uncommon eloquence. Focusing on the Nazi campaign against Hungarian Jews during the last few months of World War II, the film interweaves recent interviews with survivors of this atrocity with vintage documentary film footage and photographs. The result is a very potent and poignant lesson that speaks of our common humanity (and potential for inhumanity), the mob mentality, individuality, and how those human dynamics come into play during the course of history. I found at the end of the film that my shirt collar was damp from tears that I had not realized I was shedding, and that the storytellers leave a lasting impression --- a week later, their words and faces are still sharply etched in my mind, and I suspect I will always remember them.
The film-to-DVD transfer is flawless, and there are powerful extra features to explore: a still archive, deleted sequences, the theatrical trailer, and much, much more. I would honestly recommend that you prepare to spend some time "processing" what you learn and experience while watching this disc, and that adults be sensitive to the impact that this material may have on less mature viewers. Truly Hitler's "Final Solution" is the stuff of unimaginable horror, and this most worthy Oscar-winner pulls no punches in exposing a very real nightmare to the light of day.
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on March 30, 2015
Another very important documentary to own and experience. This would make a great teaching tool and class room discussion on the horrors and the aftermath of the Holocaust. A personal and emotional, touching experience.
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on June 13, 2001
I am, and have been for many years, an avid reader and watcher of Holocaust books and films. I have watched many great movies on the subject including Escape from Sobibor, Schindler's List, Anne Frank and the wonderful Life Is Beautiful (a must watch if you think your life [stinks) but this docu-movie has to be one of the most thought provoking on the subject. Using 5 actual survivors of the Holocaust, no actors here, this tear jerking, highly inspirational movie has my vote as one of the 5 top movies of all time. Some scenes will horrify and sicken, some will make the watcher mad, but the over all message of the movie is learn... lest we repeat. I think this film should be shown in schools to teach our children the real history of the Holocaust, the insane reasonings behind it and hope that they learn to be more loving, caring and more respectful of each other. As Speilberg says at the start of the movie non of us are born evil, filled with hate... it's something we learn. So if we can learn evil and hate, then there's a chance to teach tomorrows generation love and understanding. A brilliant film, worth every penny and then some.
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on January 27, 2014
I was very pleased with my order. My order exceeded my expectations. My order will go great with my World War II DVD collection. I think this DVD is very good and informative. I agree that this stories should be told because if the stories are not told, history will repeat itself.
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on February 28, 2003
I teach high school English. I feel that this an excellent choice to show in conjunction with reading Weisel's NIGHT. His novel also talks about the last days of World War II. So you can make a comparison between his story and the survivor stories in the documentary. It also helps those visual learners better understand what Weisel was going through. I orginally wanted to show Speilberg's Shindler's List but it's rated R and I thought it would create too much of a stir. The documentary is rated PG-13, so it's a little easier to swallow but also very truthful. I believe that some of my students came away with a new appreciation for what they have here in America.
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on August 24, 2014
this was heart rendering to watch yet I believe everyone should see this to make sure that this will never happen again.
My heart went out to the survivors it is so long ago and yet so raw to their memories.
A similar thing is happening once again somewhere else in this world it shows that nothing really has been learned by those atrocities
will we ever learn ???
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on August 24, 2013
I've seen lots of films about the Jewish Holocaust, and am always in awe regarding the profound display of man's inhumanity toward man. I just now watched James Moll's 1998 Oscar Winner, and was quite taken by the individual witnesses' accounts of their own personal tragedies. This is one of the best, quite personal and riveting. It centers on the plight of Hungarian Jews, which hasn't been focused in previous docs.

I read a few 1-star reviews by those who deny the Holocaust, and I'm saddened by the fact that, with all the physical evidence, such an idea could perpetuate itself. "The Last Days" is definitely worth a look. A fine documentary film achievement.
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