Six Million and One
“Six Million and One” is filmmaker David Fisher’s documentary about his father’s (Joseph Fisher) experience in the Holocaust and, more specifically, the story of Fisher and his siblings coming to terms with that legacy. The film is part historical document, part memoir and part family therapy session. Fisher and his siblings travel to Austria to trace their father’s journey from one concentration camp to the next. Fisher’s siblings, Gideon, Ronel and Esti have doubts about embarking on this trip, thinking it better to leave the past in the past.
Fisher explains, “My siblings didn’t want to read my father’s memoir (discovered after his death)…it contained things that were locked away for so long. I also did not want to read it and yet felt compelled to do so. I learned of Gusen Village, Gunskirchen Forest, beatings, hunger, cannibalism, homosexuality…it uncovered all my father’s demons…I made half the journey alone. I forced the second half of the journey on my siblings, who didn’t want to participate, even while they were crawling around tunnels (the construction of which Joseph was forced to participate in) and enchanted forests. This isn’t a film about the Holocaust, because we spent most of our time laughing and there is nothing funny about the Holocaust; it’s a about a rare kind of intimacy and sibling bond that replaced pain with bittersweet humor.”
“Six Million and One” contains harrowing accounts of what Joseph endured. The excerpts from his memoirs are read in a simple manner, on screen, and not accompanied by visual representation. They are disturbing just as they are.
Fisher visits World War II veterans still suffering form traumatic stress syndrome. Their accounts, again not reinforced by visuals, are honest and straightforward. Fisher has made the good choice to trust the testimony of his subjects and not dress up their accounts with visual elements outside of the subjects themselves. At one point Fisher interviews the grandson of General George Patton. He is very matter of fact and unemotional about his memories of liberating a concentration camp. His description brings the experience to life.
“Six Million and One” is about memories and keeping those memories, albeit unpleasant ones, alive. A nice metaphor occurs as Fisher visits Holocaust sites – concentration camps, work areas – that are being plowed under as they become suburban areas containing homes and families and, in one instance, a proposed condominium.
“Six Million and One” opens on Septemeber 28 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, 1886 Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets, in Manhattan.
“Six Million and One,” director David Fisher, 2012,
Nancy Fishman Film Releasing, 93 minutes