Murer: Anatomie eines Prozesses [Murer: Anatomy of a Trial] (2018)

Murer: Anatomie eines Prozesses
Director: Christian Frosch
Writer: Christian Frosch
Cast: Karl Fischer, Alexander E. Fennon, Melita Jurisic, Ursula Ofner, Karl Markovics, Gerhard Liebmann, Roland Jaeger, Doval’e Glickman, Rainer Wöss, Erni Mangold, Susi Stach
Part of: Diagonale
Seen on: 13.3.2018

In 1963, Franz Murer (Karl Fischer) is a pillar of his Austrian community, a politician and one of the richest men in the area. But during the Second World War, he was an important men for the Nazis and ran the ghetto in Vilnius where he was known for his cruelty. Simon Wiesenthal (Karl Markovics) has been fighting to get him in front of a judge, and finally he succeeds: Murer is tried for his war crimes. But will he be found guilty?

Murer: Anatomie eines Prozesses is an excellent film in all areas and a condemnation of Austria, especially with regards to the lack of accountability for our participation in World War Two – a lack that still haunts us to this day and causes nothing but problems. It’s hard to watch but absolutely necessary.

I wasn’t familiar with the particulars of Murer’s case before the film, but it really is the epitome of everything that went wrong in Austria after the war. It’s almost nauseating. And if I wasn’t aware of how badly things went, I would have said that it’s unbelievable. I still had to shake my head a lot about everything. It made me so angry, it almost pushed me into despair.

With Murer, Frosch – who nailed it after the film when he said, “Nobody has the right not to know” – made a film that is not only historically relevant, but speaks volumes about the way things are today. It will disabuse of the slightest notion that the power structures established (or fortified) under the Nazis ended when the war did.

Frosch made the choice to have the Jewish witness who come to testify against Murer speak Yiddish. That had a much stronger, more emotional effect than I expected. It is so rare we get to hear it at all in films, and then often it’s a word here and there, or maybe even a sentence, but not more. Here we get long testimonies that feel much more immediate from being in Yiddish (even though I don’t speak it myself) and Hebrew. For me, it just emphasized how much was lost.

Murer is a strong film in all areas from cinematography to cast to music. And it’s highly political and should be mandatory viewing for pretty much everybody.

Summarizing: Heart-wrenching and excellent.

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