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Ben Kingsley

At NPR, Rachel Martin interviews the great Ben Kingsley about portraying Adolf Eichmann in the new film Operation Finale.

Martin: You are remarkably able to...humanize him feels so trite and it's not the right word, but portray him in a multi-dimensional way. He is so very ordinary at this point in his life. He's living outside Buenos Aires with his wife, he takes the bus to work every day. How did you strike that balance between the man who was and the man who is, when we meet him?

Kingsley: Well, Rachel, you used the word humanize, and it's interesting that in fact I did not humanize him. The tragedy is that these men and women were part of a national movement that mobilized their military, their ideology, their culture, their language, their engineering, to annihilate as many of Europe's Jews as they could. But these people — however difficult it might be for us to swallow — were human beings, and to play them as a two-dimensional comic strip villain or a run-of-the-mill-"baddie" would be to do a terrible disservice to history and the memory of those that they murdered. For the years of extermination between 1933 and 1945, it was men and women who did this. It was not my duty to humanize anything because tragically, it's already human.

The greatest, most tragic error we could now make is to dismiss Nazis as two-dimensional villains, or to consign the Holocaust to an increasingly distant corner of history. Because the Nazis were human, just as human as we are today — quick to blame others for our own shortcomings, especially those who lack the power to defend themselves against the majority. Until we take full responsibility for our own lives, and fully respect the lives of others, the Holocaust will probably happen again. In fact, on a lesser scale it already has - in Bosnia, Rwanda, Myanmar and too many other places.

August 29, 2018 in Film, History | Permalink