3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)
Still Life in Lodz is the most emotionally taxing film I’ve seen in 2021, but I’m happy I saw it. While the horrors of World War II have been thoroughly documented, Still Life in Lodz shows us how its titular city was impacted, as told by 3 people connected to the city in different ways, but who all shared similar trauma. Still Life in Lodz is an emotionally taxing yet informative documentary that highlights past horrors in a unique way.
Lilka Elbaum, Paul Celler, and Roni Ben Ari were each impacted by the expulsion of Jews from Poland in 1968. Each has traveled to the city of Lodz hoping to discover links to their pasts and see how said expulsion still impacts the city today. What they find are stories of hardship, brutality, and survival to the end while each coming to grips with what transpired.
Still Life in Lodz is not an easy watch. Through voice-overs, animated recreations, and stock footage/imagery, we see and hear how the once-safe city of Lodz morphed into a nightmare for its inhabitants and some of the indignities they suffered. The doc subjects are interesting and bring raw emotion when discussing their knowledge and experiences, and the film wisely treats its audience as though they hadn’t heard of this city or its importance to the people within it before. It drags a bit in places and the music score occasionally becomes overblown, but the overall package is informative, well-made, and engaging. Still Life in Lodz is a harrowing, informative documentary that allows a more intimate look at past horrors. See it.