Stalags

"Very Good"

Stalags Review


Never less than enthusiastically fascinating, Israeli journalist and documentarian Ari Libsker's Stalags, about the pulp-magazines that depicted Nazi women raping American and European POWs, raises some mighty strange issues about the Holocaust and '60s pulp fiction, considers the role of manipulated history and education in the national mindset, and ponders the validity of a widely-accepted Holocaust text. The success of these probes and proddings, given the film's 63-minute runtime, could also rightly be questioned.

At one time published on a daily basis, stalags became a sort of national phenomenon for those Jews who were lucky enough to escape the German onslaught. When survivors were unable to cull forth the resolve to talk about the horrors they faced, a generation of Curious Georges found escapist fantasy in the words of Israeli authors pretending to be simple translators for American pulp writers. Coinciding roughly with the trial of Nazi villain Adolph Eichmann, the release of these magazines, with such colorful names as I Was Colonel Schultz's Bitch, was seen both as a reaction to the trial and as a form of pornography.

There's a darkly seductive tone to the film from the beginning: a barrage of pulp fiction covers featuring babes in SS regalia nearly bursting from their half-unbuttoned shirts as they whip and manhandle some poor American soldier who had the misfortune of landing in enemy territory. Things really get cooking, however, when we are introduced to two ardent fans of the genre; one closeted, the other happily open. As the former, his face hidden by a TV-news shadow effect, openly says that he fantasizes about getting raped (or getting to rape) a female SS officer, the latter, an Israeli attorney named Eyal Liany, talks about how he likes to perform anal sex with German women while thinking about their Führer-loving grandparents looking down and seeing what a Jewish man is doing to their granddaughter. Whoa.

The Haifa-born Libsker says he got the idea for the documentary when he realized that the first pictures of the Holocaust he saw were of naked women while he attended elementary school. Like his controversial Circumcision, a film about the effects of the titular tradition on the sex life of Jewish males, Stalags has a peculiar curiosity about how Jewish history bleeds into Jewish genealogy and psychology. In this sense, the film could have been at least another 60 minutes long, to tidy up some loose threads, but this doesn't divert the film's deranged agenda. Libsker's film is short, complex and, every once in awhile, very funny. How Philip Roth hasn't written about this is beyond me.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 63 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 30th December 2010

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ari Libsker

Producer: Barak Heymann

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