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The Last Flight of Petr Ginz

Release Year:         2012
Studio:         First Run Features
Format:         Colour; Widescreen; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         1
Running Time:         66 minutes
DVD Release Date:         April 9, 2013
Screenwriter:         Sandra Dickson
Directors:         Sandra Dickson, Churchill Roberts
E:Top Picks Rating:         10/10

First Run Features Write-up:
By 14 he had written five novels and penned a diary about the Nazi occupation of Prague. By 16 he had produced 170 drawings and paintings, edited an underground magazine in the Jewish ghetto, written short stories and walked to the gas chamber at Auschwitz.

Filled with intellectual curiosity but prone to mischief, Petr Ginz read voraciously, wrote constantly, built exploding toy cannons to frighten his classmates, and drew and painted a world full of adventure and exotic locations. In his novel, an allegory about Hitler, Petr told the story of a giant robotic creature that is used by the government to terrorize the people. He ends the book with the warning: “Is it not possible that a new monster may appear on the Earth… a monster that will torture mankind in a terrible manner?”

Through Petr’s art and writing, interwoven with fantastical animation, this unconventional film reveals a journey from precocious child to young adult, from gifted artist to prodigy, and of innocence lost. Although Petr’s life ended at Auschwitz, this is not a story of tragedy but rather a testatment to how one boy’s wonder and creative expression represent the best of what makes us human.

Short Film: Boy Animated
Short Film: Inside the Artist’s World
Short Film: A World Imagined: The Music of The Last Flight of Petr Ginz

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
The legacy of the Holocaust continues to loom today like an obscene cloud of ash, not unlike the ones that blighted so much of concentration camp-plagued Europe during World War II. Countless stories, many yet to be told, are the dismal reminder of one of humanity’s greatest shames.

We seek out and tell these stories because they help us to understand the past–very much in the hope that the mistake which led to this moral canker may never happen again. In that sense, each new tale is to be welcomed.

In the case of the story of Petr Ginz, this story is not only to be welcomed, it is to be applauded.

A good starting point in appreciating the genius of Petr Ginz might be to imagine the childhood of Leonardo Da Vinci. The comparison is appropriate, yet we’ll never know the full extent of this complement in large part because Petr Ginz’s remarkable life was cut short by the madness of genocide.

Any life lost by such vile means is a tragedy, but a life so rich with talent, innovation and–here’s that word again–genius, is doubly tragic.

The filmmakers embrace the story of Petr Ginz not as a tragedy, but as a glorious triumph of the human, specifically the artistic, spirit over oppression and tyranny.

Mining Petr’s extensive drawings and paintings (and writings) to tell the story of the Holocaust is a brilliant approach. To extend their impact by animating them and using them as the springboard for additional artwork is a stroke of genius in its own right.

THE LAST FLIGHT OF PETR GINZ captures young Petr’s brilliance by replicating his far-reaching imagination and bringing it–and, to an extent, him–to life.

See this film. You won’t forget it. The story of Petr Ginz is a tragedy, to be sure, but it transcends its inherent sorrow by reminding us all of the life-affirming importance of artistic expression.

One more thing, the phenomenal score for this film is an outstanding work of art in its own right. Most documentaries, of necessity, feature small-scale musical scores that reflect a limited budget–the use of electronic instruments or small ensembles. Not here. Here we have a symphonic sore of crushing poignancy, ethereal bliss and percussive bite. With any luck, a soundtrack CD will be available soon.