Life? Or Theatre?…a film review by Roz Tarszisz

March 17, 2014 by Roz Tarszisz
Read on for article

Truth or Fiction?  A documentary is a brief introduction to a subject about which we may know very little. The viewer is taken into another world by expanding our knowledge of a small slice of it. Should we expect it to accurately reflect the truth?

Life? Or Theatre? introduces German-Jewish artist Charlotte – Lotte – Salomon. Her achievement was extraordinary. She created a series of 700 paintings depicting her life both in pictures and words. The works were left for safekeeping with her doctor not long before she was taken to Auschwitz.

Like many artists she was conflicted and confused and not always at ease with herself or her life. A quiet child she grew to be a withdrawn adult. After Kristalnacht her parents sent the 21year old Lotte from beleaguered Berlin to Villefranche-sur-Mer in southern France. Here she lived the life of the artist, painting and drawing her beautiful surrounds as well as the work depicting her own life.

Interspersed with black and white photos and interviews is a dramatic film of her life made in 1982 by the director of this documentary, Frans Weisz.

Lotte appears to have inherited a family trait of depression and while she contemplates it, resists emulating her mother and grandmother.

Her imagination is boundless but while she has supposedly drawn and written her own history for posterity, it appears that some significant parts were simply that of her lively imagination.

This does not detract from her ultimate achievement in depicting her version of her life. She was 26 when she died and her action in safeguarding her work has given her a place in both art and Holocaust history.

Watch the trailer….

W86min Dutch, French, German and English

Director – Frans Weisz

Netherlands 2011

The film is part of Holocaust Film Series being screened in Melbourne and Sydney

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