Seven Minutes In The Warsaw Ghetto


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Seven Minutes In The Warsaw Ghetto
"Fine model work, excellent production design, an overwhelming sense of menace."

My notes for this excellently executed stop-motion short, set as it is in the deprivation of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi era, feature the word BLEAK. Capital letters, underlined - there's no compromise here, no insinuation of an ultimately happy ending.

The miniatures are crack-faced, aged porcelain, with human eyes staring out of them. Composited, discomfitingly so, real irises, genuine pupils, authentic windows to souls - perched on top of cloth-bound models, with rusted wrist joints like discarded dolls. Fine model work, excellent production design, an overwhelming sense of menace.

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Easy done, even before the baleful gaze of a loitering crow, even before a crude drawing of Hitler on a scrap of paper, even before the soldiers arrive. Motivation here is not all stick. There is, in fact, a carrot, but for all those shades of grey, the texture of cloth and clay and historicity, this is a black and white tale.

Johan Oettinger's film is beautifully made, but one is left wondering if these talents would better serve a different story. There are audiences for the bleak. Indeed, Danish export cinema sometimes seems as if it caters exclusively to them, but there is futility elsewhere - human misery is vast enough that one would hope for a different resource to be tapped. Without wanting to trivialise the subject matter, it'd be good to hear something off one of the other albums. For all the inventiveness in presentation and method, and genuinely affecting as they are, it's one ably sustained note but it's one that we've heard before.

Reviewed on: 07 Feb 2013
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A mischievous boy sees a carrot lying just outside the Warsaw ghetto and tries to retrieve it with a piece of wire.

Director: Johan Oettinger

Writer: Richard Raskin

Starring: Vibe Lilmoës, Ene Øster Bendtsen, Sanne Løwe, Jonas Bregnhøj Nielsen, Jonas Bjarnøe Jensen

Year: 2012

Runtime: 8 minutes

Country: Denmark


Glasgow 2013

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