Remember is a Tale Well Worth Recalling
A Tale to Remember
Zev Gutman (Plummer) and Max Rosenbaum (Landau) are a couple of elderly men residing in a long-term assisted living facility. As the film opens we learn that Zev’s wife has recently passed away and that both men are Holocaust survivors who had been interned at Auschwitz. Zev is suffering from Alzheimer’s and tends to forget that his wife has passed, meanwhile, Max — though confined to a wheelchair — is still in full possession of his facilities. He reminds Zev of a promise that he had made. While Zev doesn’t remember, Max tells him not to worry, as he has written everything down for Zev.
With the aid of a fellow Auschwitz survivor and a hand-written letter, an elderly man with dementia goes in search of the person responsible for the death of his family.
A Sad but Compelling Story
What follows is a sad, but compelling road trip as we follow Zev who has set out on a quest as he follows the instructions on the multi-page, hand-written letter. We follow Zev as he travels from place to place on his trip. At first, we are not quite sure of what he is doing or where he is going, but we can’t shake a feeling of dread as his first stop is at a gun store where he purchases a Glock. What we do know, is that there is no way that this story is going to end well.
As the tale unfolds, we come to understand that what Zev and Max have planned is for Zev to hunt down a man who was a Nazi officer at Auschwitz who killed both of their families. As Zev in the only one of the pair that is ambulatory, he was the one to hunt down the man they know as Rudy Kurlander, who was the Nazi guard. What they do know about him is that Kurlander is living in America under an assumed identity. What follows is a remarkable cross-continent road-trip with consequences that are both surprising and unsettling.
Max and Zev
Zev and Max
Coached from a distance by Max from the rest home, Zev is led through a very detailed, step-by-step search for his quarry. According to information uncovered by Max from The Wiesenthal Center there are four possible suspects and Zev has been tasked with finding, and executing, the correct Rudy Kurlander in retaliation for Kurlander’s role in the deaths of each of their families while at Auschwitz. The story seemingly meanders as Zev travels from one, apparently random location to another. That is until we discover precisely what it is that Zev is up to in his quest.
Setting an agenda
Remembering the Past
The story is most compelling as it deals with a momentous evil that occurred just prior to the modern era, one that occurred before many of us were alive, and that many of the individuals who did live through that horror are dying and soon — too soon — there will be none who do recall, and that will be beyond tragic. For, as George Santayana once told us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Thus it is important for us to remember — not only the Holocaust itself, and the events that lead to it, but stories like this one that help remind us of that past, no matter how painful it is to bear.
On the Hunt
The Past Reflected Into the Present
This is a harsh film to watch, for those of us with elder parents, for those whose families went through the Holocaust. These are troubled times we have a Presidential candidate who wants to ban all members from a particular faith from entering this country. We have a growing culture of hate and intolerance here in the U.S. that (at the risk of Goodwinning the argument) many have commented that they can’t help but to notice is occurring here in this country. People have taken to shouting down others that disagree with them, with whose lifestyle they disagree with, or who are simply “different” from them. All of this looks familiar to any of us who have studied the past, making the future look dangerous indeed.
The Search Continues
You Should Watch this Film
Back to the film, it is — as we pointed out earlier — a powerful (if tragic) — story that needs to be told. Ultimately the ending is not only not different from what we expect, it is far, far different from what we could possibly expect. This is a well-made film with top-flight actors, telling an incredibly layered and nuanced tale, which we highly recommend to be seen.
Perks of the DVD
The DVD comes with a pair of behind the scenes featurettes as well as a commentary tract.