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THE GLASS CAGE

Israel / France, 1964 (MIFF 1966, Programme 15)

Director: Philippe Arthuys

The Eichmann trial in lsrael is the background for a taut story of the effects of this historic trial on a group of people. The glass cage is, of course, the one Eichmann sat in, but it may also be a symbol of the one still surrounding many Israelis.

Pierre, a successful engineer who came to Israel after World War II, has suppressed all memories of his incarceration in a concentration camp in France. When Eichmann is put on trial, Pierre is asked to give testimony, but refuses. Urged by his secretary, who also suffered in the war, he at last reveals - both to his wife and to the tribunal - his past, which includes the terrible secret of how he survived. The confession, having freed him from his memories, enables him to face the future again.

In a technique reminiscent of Hiroshima mon amour, the director has used a penetrating but fluid narrative style that carefully examines the various relationships. Keeping dialogue to a minimum, the film does not sermonise although it does intimate that both the victims and the executioners have to face up to the horror and the meaning of what has happened. Jean Negroni is excellent in the lead as the sombre, brooding man facing his past.

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