“Nathan-ism” is a riveting documentary. Just when you are glowing and basking in the warmth of an incredible story the rug gets yanked under your feet. How you interpret your spill is your business but be prepared for a spill!
Nathan Hilu, a Jew of Sephardic ancestry, at 18 years of age and serving with the United States Army is ordered to guard Nazi war crime defendants at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. He chats with Albert Speer and Goering and understands what the defendants are accused of by reading the daily court transcripts.
Hilu is not a writer so there are no written memoirs rather a huge mass of sketches relating his memoirs of his interactions with the Nazi defendants. Almost cartoon like they are crammed full of remarks and annotations affording an insight to the criminals and Hilu’s reaction to them. They are visual memoirs. They are commented on by art curators and archivists.
Hilu is in his early nineties and most co-operative yet at times asked questions that might be addressed towards his credibility he turns slightly argumentative and hostile. He keeps saying his stories are true. Hmmmm?
Particularly interesting is his recounting of the pending hanging of Goering who committed suicide 3 hours prior to it. Hilu claims Goering’s wife at a last visit with Goering had a particularly long kiss with him. He says it was a cyanide capsule orally exchanged.
Some doubts are raised about Hilu but it is established he was a guard at Nuremberg but beyond that the rug is moving under your feet.
Not intended I am sure but how reliable, truthful and accurate are documentaries? A valuable unintended lesson here is don’t always believe what you see even if it is in a documentary.
In theatre performances have passed for this Toronto Hot Docs documentary but it streams until 9 May for Canadians. It will also play in Israel’s Docaviv between May 11-20.
You can see the trailer here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g98mGOsYs28 RKS 2023 Film Rating 89/100