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Operation Finale’ Chronicles The Capture Of Adolf Eichmann

Director Chris Weitz talks about his new film

Photo caption: Oscar Isaac plays Israeli agent Peter Malkin and Sir Ben Kingsley plays Adolf...

Photo credit: MGM

Oscar Isaac plays Israeli agent Peter Malkin and Sir Ben Kingsley plays Adolf Eichmann in Chris Weitz's "Operation Finale."

GUESTS:

Chris Weitz, 'Operation Finale' director

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Transcript

Companion viewing

"The Stranger" (1946)

"Night and Fog" (1955)

"Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961)

"The Pawnbroker" (1964)

"The Sorrow and the Pity" (1969)

"Shoah" (1985)

Director Chris Weitz talks about why a film about the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, is timely today. "Operation Finale" opens on Aug. 29 throughout San Diego.

The new film "Operation Finale" looks to the 1960 mission to extract Adolf Eichmann from Argentina and bring him to stand trial in Israel. The film stars Oscar Isaac as Israeli agent Peter Malkin and Sir Ben Kingsley as Eichmann.

Weitz said the film is about more than just the Holocaust: “I think the subject of nationalism and racism is perennial and clearly the most horrific example of it that anyone can remember, and I hope they still do, is the Holocaust. Unfortunately, it bears upon our times.”

But he also had a more personal reason in telling the story.

“My father had been a refugee from Germany and he joined the U.S. Army and worked in the O.S.S., so he had an expertise in the Nazi party, and when I was younger he wrote two biographies of prominent Nazi party officials and I helped him organize his research. So I was steeped in this stuff from an early age."

Although the film is a thriller with tensely staged action, it works best in the scenes between Malkin and Eichmann where it develops into a more focused psychological drama. In these scenes, it almost feels like a claustrophobic two-hander play.

Weitz and Kingsley did not want to portray Eichmann in one-dimensional terms as merely an evil Nazi stereotype, because then Weitz said, "It allows an audience to file him away as something that can never be repeated or is unique. The reason I give credit to Sir Ben is that he has utter contempt for Eichmann personally but was able to infuse him with the humanity that I think you need to understand that these things are possible today and at all times."

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