In an era when the Holocaust is regularly taught on school syllabus’ around the world and depicted in Oscar winning blockbusters, it is hard to imagine a time when the true horrors of Nazi persecution remained virtually hidden from public view.
The Eichmann Show transports us to this world, and to the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi officer accused of orchestrating the mass murder of over six million Jews. Captured in South America, Eichmann was brought to Israel to stand trial for crimes against humanity, and it is here that the true story unfolds of producer Milton Fruchtman (Martin Freeman) and director Leo Hurwitz ( Anthony LaPaglia) as they attempt to broadcast the trial worldwide. Fruchtman and Hurwitz, blacklisted under the McCarthy administration in the US, ambitiously set about creating what will become the first ever global documentary series.
Tasked with conveying what it must have felt like to hear the stories of survivors for the first time, as well as the shockwaves that this documentary created globally, the cast excels. Freeman, so often typecast as ‘the funny man’, perfectly strikes the balance between Fruchtman’s emotion and ambition, whilst LaPaglia draws the audience towards Hurwitz’s obsession with Eichmann’s humanity.
With a soundtrack that builds tension and heartbreak, as well as a perfect period backdrop of early 60s Israel, The Eichmann Show is stylish without overpowering the true meaning of its story. Interweaving the drama with real cross-examinations shown during the original broadcast ensures that the audience feel they, too, are hearing afresh what really happened in work camps and gas chambers. The painfully stark images of victims and poignant scenes still hold the power to remind all of the human capacity for barbarity and hope, ensuring that The Eichmann Show is a fitting tribute to two men who helped change perceptions of the Holocaust forever.