Visual

Audio

A window opens. Stock footage from Triumph of the Will.

Narrator reads from Kafka's The Trial: With a flicker, as of a light going up, the casement suddenly flew open—a human figure leaned abruptly forward and stretched both arms still further.

People at the window (from Triumph).

Who was it? A friend? A good man? Someone who

Hitler clutches his throat (from Triumph ).

Narrator sync in Prague.

sympathized? Someone who wanted to help?

But the hands of one of the partners were already at K's throat, while the other thrust the knife into his heart and turned it there.

Narrator: A murder, a murder by secret policemen—the climax of Franz Kafka's novel The Trial. In such a century, such a death has become all too common. For ours has been the age of the secret policeman, the street thug, the prison and the concentration camp—the age of that emotionless and legalized horror we now call Kafkaesque.

Despite all our advances, we have been unable to shrug off the bestial side of our nature.

Yet sixty-five years ago, at the end of the first Great War, it seemed possible that the beast within had been laid to rest amidst the slaughter of the trenches. There was a new spirit; the war just ended was the war to end all wars—a war to make the world safe for democracy, to create lands fit for heroes to live in.

And no people were to benefit more from this modern world than the Jews.

Superimposed title: Out of the Ashes

As director, I was very excited by Brian's concept and immediately sensed the pictures that could accompany the text. Brian had indicated in general terms that we use excerpts from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, the classic film about the massive Nazi rally in Nuremberg in 1934. Very specifically, I imagined night pictures of storm troopers marching, flickering torches, black helmets silhouetted against moving clouds, blazing buildings, close-ups of boots, hands gripping belts emblazoned with the Nazi Totenkopf (an emblem of death's head). I wanted an impressionistic feeling of dark horror rather than a concrete picture of Nazi troops.

With this in mind, we realized that the visuals were fine, but as we looked again at this very fast first draft we found two things that were wrong. First, though the Kafka idea was good, the specific selections were not doing exactly what we wanted. They were too general and did little to forewarn us of the horrors of Nazi Germany. I therefore asked Brian to see if he could find a more pertinent extract from The Trial that would serve our purposes better. The second problem was that the latter part of the introductory narration undermined the opening point. We had talked of a black, brutal world coming into existence yet finished by saying the Jews were going to benefit enormously in this modern era. That was confusing and in complete contradiction to the mood set up by the Kafka extract. We had unconsciously set up an opening that was moving in opposite directions. Even worse, the final statement was very misleading, if not untrue. The early 1920s held superficial promise for the Jews of Europe, but that period was soon eclipsed by a decade of unprecedented horror.

Brian saw all this very clearly and went back to his word processor. Over the next few months, the opening went through several more changes until Brian finished with the text printed below, which I thought was excellent and provided everything I wanted for the opening:

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