This film is incredibly moving. Apart from accurately presenting the horrendous reality of Jewish extermination, the plot presents Jewish prisoners placing God on trial – whether God has abandoned them and broken their covenant. The discussion among the prisoners is quite interesting because it underlines the different perspectives when defending or attacking God.
My favorite speaker was the physicist, who spoke of the logical reason for God’s creation of 150 million stars. He inquired the flawed logic for God’s sole focus on the Jews, if he was responsible for the entire universe, why did God choose the Jews, why not create a universe with 150 million Jews. The scientist implored reason, reason above all else. He is representative of the scientific revolution- when reason, which is proven through fact – is the only irrefutable truth.
Of course the final verdict was delivered by another prisoner, one who was rather reticent for the entirety of the film. He described the various ‘righteous’ acts of God: the plagues against Thero, the slaying of firstborns from the Egyptians, God’s championing of merciless slaughter from the Amaleks* against the Saul’s men, women, and children. The prisoner reinforced the idea that God was not good. That He was only ever strong, and on the side of the Jews – he was not just. Those who acknowledged true justice should have stood up to him, yet no one will because ‘thy will be done.’ The prisoner mentioned that God had abandoned them, and that the covenant was broken and shared with someone or something else.
By far, the most emotional moment of the movie, when the son of one of the prisoners desperately asks “God is guilty, so what now?!” the outspoken Prisoner (the one who accused God as unjust) simply said “Now, we pray.” This seems a little ironic, since he had just presented an entire discourse into proving God’s unjust nature. Maybe. Maybe the prisoner wanted to pray, not for the hopes of God intervening, but for the comfort and security that praying brought along. A psychological relaxer in the face of imminent, inevitable death. Maybe it was this quote that alludes to the true possible nature of religion. We pray to God, not matter how just or unjust, to ease our psychological torture as we near the end – an absolute closure to our lives – and convince our tired and frightened minds that we will awake on the other side. This was my interpretation of the film.
5 out of 5 stars.