The Singing Forest

In the powerful 1999 documentary PARAGRAPH 175, a gay concentration camp survivor describes what he euphemistically calls "the singing forest," a cluster of concrete poles from which victims were hung from hooks. The "singing" was the sound of their screams. It's a horrible image that can easily cause nightmares, but quintuple threat Jorge Ameer — writer,...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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In the powerful 1999 documentary PARAGRAPH 175, a gay concentration camp survivor describes what he euphemistically calls "the singing forest," a cluster of concrete poles from which victims were hung from hooks. The "singing" was the sound of their screams. It's a horrible image that can easily cause nightmares, but quintuple threat Jorge Ameer — writer, director, producer, actor and distributor — apparently found a different kind of inspiration in this awful memory. He created a trivial tale of romance and reincarnation that would be simply laughable if it weren't such a senseless exploitation of atrocity. Magazine journalist Christopher (Jon Sherrin) is having trouble dealing with the recent death of his wife of 22 years. He's drinking heavily, and ever since he went to see a psychic (Toni Zobel) for an article on past lives, he's become obsessed with the loopy notion that he's actually the reincarnation of "Jo," a German resistance fighter hanged by the Nazis for hiding Jews during the Holocaust. His colleague, Charlie (Ameer), worries that Christopher will lose his job if he boozes his way through any more deadlines, but Christopher tells him to mind his own business. Besides, Christopher's daughter Destiny (Erin Leigh Price), whom he hasn't seen since she graduated from college, is getting married in a week, and he'll be paying her an extended visit. But there's no escaping the past. Immediately upon meeting his future son-in-law, Ben (Craig Pinkston), Christopher is struck by the strange sensation that he's met this hunky male model somewhere before, and lays a creepy reincarnation rap on the bewildered lad. Christopher is convinced not only that Ben is gay, but that he was once "Alexander," Jo's lover. So instead of helping Destiny with the wedding, Christopher sets about seducing his daughter's fiance. Ick. Amir seems oblivious to how deeply this plot development further taints an already unsympathetic character; Christopher is not only a mean drunk, he admits that before he was his dear departed wife's husband, he was her rapist. The cast isn't bad but the movie is, and Amir's use of Holocaust imagery is cheap and unnecessary; Jo and Alexander could just as easily have died on the Titanic. At one point the dialogue is completely drowned out by the roar of the surf, and that is no doubt a blessing.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: In the powerful 1999 documentary PARAGRAPH 175, a gay concentration camp survivor describes what he euphemistically calls "the singing forest," a cluster of concrete poles from which victims were hung from hooks. The "singing" was the sound of their scream… (more)

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