The Specialist

Painstakingly culled from some 350 hours of carefully restored videotape, Eyal Sivan's precis of the 1961 trial of former SS official Adolf Eichmann is an admirable feat of abbreviation: Sivan squeezes into two hours much of what took eight months to unfold in a Jerusalem courtroom, and presents the salient points of this troubling case with gripping concision....read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Painstakingly culled from some 350 hours of carefully restored videotape, Eyal Sivan's precis of the 1961 trial of former SS official Adolf Eichmann is an admirable feat of abbreviation: Sivan squeezes into two hours much of what took eight months to unfold in a

Jerusalem courtroom, and presents the salient points of this troubling case with gripping concision. In 1960, Eichmann was kidnapped from Argentina by the Israeli Secret Service, and taken to Jerusalem to stand trial for his role in the Holocaust. Eichmann, a former salesman who eventually became

an SS lieutenant-colonel, was thought of as a "specialist" on the transportation of the Reich's unwelcome Jewish population, and his career followed the nightmarish trajectory of the Final Solution. What began with the organized, forced emigration of European Jews ended in mass transportation to

concentration camps; in a very real sense, Eichmann sent millions of people to their deaths. What he did was never in doubt; what three Israeli judges had to determine over the course of the trial was the extent to which Eichmann could be held legally responsible. Sivan presents many dramatic

moments from the trial, but as political philosopher Hannah Arendt argued in her controversial report Eichmann in Jerusalem — which Sivan credits as an inspiration — the trial was remarkable for the questions it couldn't address. How do we judge legality when right and wrong have

been reversed, and can we expect an individual's conscience to govern his behavior when all signs of good and evil have disappeared from society at large? As a compendium of footage of a specific event, Sivan's film can't address any of these haunting issues on its own, but serves as an excellent

companion to Arendt's book and the controversy that still rages around it.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Painstakingly culled from some 350 hours of carefully restored videotape, Eyal Sivan's precis of the 1961 trial of former SS official Adolf Eichmann is an admirable feat of abbreviation: Sivan squeezes into two hours much of what took eight months to unfol… (more)
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