"This being the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, there has been much media attention given the Holocaust of late, from PBS and BBC's tremendous six-hour documentary series, Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State to Daniel Anker's documentary for AMC, Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, about the thorny relationship between the Hollywood dream factory and events of the not-so-distant past.
Looking at QB VII today, it's amazing how dated it looks on a purely technical (read: superficial) level - the style of filmmaking (or lack of style, if you prefer), the awkward framing, the grainy film stock, etc.
Content is what's important, though, and while the disc has no choice but to live with the film elements of the day - a proper film restoration would have proven frightfully expensive, I imagine, though I for one would have considered it money well spent - there's no denying that this is compelling, powerful drama.
QB VII was made at a time when the TV mini-series was still in its infancy; if I recall, Rich Man, Poor Man was the watercooler show of the day, and Roots had yet to be aired.
And yet, when I look back - I was 13 at the time QB VII played on TV - this miniseries has stuck in my memory where others have faded. Credit is due to Leon Uris, of course, but what I find compelling - all the more so, today - is the eternal moral dilemma of whether it's possible to redeem a past sin through good works, or whether there are certain sins so awful they can never be redeemed.
Parallels have been drawn between Anthony Hopkins's Dr. Kelno in this film and Dr. Josef Mengele in real life (an irredeemable historical figure, if ever there was one) - but the parallel I believe to be more apt is with Leni Riefenstahl, "Hitler's filmmaker," as she was known at the time, who first sang the praises of the Nazi state in her propaganda films and then devoted her post-war career to photographing the Dinka tribes of Sudan.
QB VII poses a tough moral question, and reaches a similarly tough conclusion. Some sins are beyond redemption, Uris argues, especially if there is no effort to admit guilt or atone publicly for past sins.
Uris wrote novels that are far better known than QB VII, lord knows - Exodus, for one. For me, though, this is the one that has stood the test of time. I fear QB VII is more relevant today than it has ever been. War criminals from the Nazi era continue to be exposed, aging older men who are living lives of relative anonymity. Inevitably the person's neighbours say, once the truth is know, 'Hey, he's an old man, he's harmless, that was a long time ago, let bygones be bygones.'
Never, Uris says, and QB VII shows why. The death camp footage - actual newsreel footage that survived the war - is unforgetable.
I wish this DVD were a perfect visual transfer, with pristine stereo sound (Jerry Goldsmith's musical score is astonishing, and has always been one of my favourites of his) but that was never likely to happen. I'm glad to have this DVD in my library, in any event.
There are many films and TV miniseries about the Holocaust that are more famous and better known, but if I had my way this is the one that would be shown in schools, in history classes. At the very least, it would prompt some important questions and provoke a lively debate."
Powerful!! Hopkins as doctor accused of being Nazi Dr. Death
S. H. Towsley | Fort Wayne, IN & Los Angeles, CA | 06/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fascinating, first rate, astoundingly well acted TV mini-series bringing together two powerful characters -- Ben Gazzara as the Nazi hunter on a mission, and the mesmerizing Anthony Hopkins as the decorated doctor accused of being a Dr. Mengele-type experimenter on human beings in concentration camps during World War II. It is hard to overstate how brilliantly well acted this film is. The story is riveting and hard to step away from even for a moment. If this were a book, it would be a page-turner. Gazzara has never been better or classier and this is one of Anthony Hopkins' best performances ever. This award-winning movie compares favorably with any other drama on a similar subject, including Marathon Man, Judgment at Nuremberg -- what have you. The movie is bold, disturbing, engrossing -- and pulls no punches regarding the nature of the experiments run in the camps. Not for the squeamish.I can't recommend this highly enough -- it was riveting television on first run, worthy of being a feature film, but it is richer for being a long-form TV mini-series. Very serious subject matter, and very moving at times -- the wives of the two men are well played, agonizing over their husbands' struggle in court, with Hopkins' wife standing by her husband to the end, and Lee Remick as Gazzara's wife is great as well. The climax is stunning. Treat yourself to a wonderful piece of television and use it to educate a new generation of young people as well!"
"When you think of Television mini series, you may think of such great television production in the 70's and 80s (its GOLDEN era) such like Backstairs at the White House, Upstairs Downstairs, The Bourne Identity (yes long before Matt Damon movie-with Richard Chamberlain and Jackie Smith), Roots (and the mini series sequel Roots the Next Generation), North and South (books 1-3), Noble House (with future James Bond Pierce Bronsnan), Shogun (with Richard Chamberlain), Jesus of Narazeth , Rich Man Poor Man (with newcomer Nick Nolte), Holocaust (with Meryl Streep and James Woods)or even The Thorn Birds (again with Chamberlain). These were some of the best TV had to offer. However, in April 1974 , the first NOVEL FOR TELEVISION (done on ABC TV) was presented. Over two nights.... Leon Uris QB V!!.
The story of Abraham Cady (Ben Gazzara) learns of his Jewish heritage from his father (Dr No's Joseph Wiseman)-- that most of his family had been exterminated in the gas chambers at the Jadwiga concentration camp. After becoming penetrated in Jewish faith after his father's death, Cady decides to move to Israel and write a book called The Holocaust. In this book, Cady accuses a surgeon, Dr. Adam Kelno (played with Relish by Anthony Hopkins), as being one of the doctors at the Jadwiga camp that did experiments on other human beings and was a war criminal. Dr. Kelno finds out about the book and decides to sue Cady in court to prove that Cady is a liar. This is based of the real life case where Leon Uris was a defendant in a law suit growing from his novel Exodus, where someone sued Uris saying he were defamed
Told in two parts, Kelno's story on the first night and the second night is Cady.story . This production lead the way for many future mini series. The production was filmed in Hollywood, England, Belguim and Israel and it shows in the production detailed filming.
Lets talk supporting cast of this piece Leslie Caron, Milo O'Shea, Sir John Gielgud, Juliet Mills, Lee Remick, Joseph Wiseman, Sir Anthony Quayle, Jack Hawkins, and Kris Tabori-all holding their own with the talented leads Gazzara and Hopkins . This production
This production is over 30 years old and it doesn't date itself. There are very strong message in this film even for today standards, the Holocaust usually is .. Parents should be advised it is VERY powerful. I suggest this for a teen and not a young child.
So should you get this? Why aren't you ordering it now?
Bennet Pomerantz AUDIOWORLD "
Great adaptation of a great book
Gustavo J. Doble | Juncos, PR United States | 05/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Movie versions of great books typically fall short of expectations, simply because there is no room in two hours to convey the whole message. In this case, however, the version lasts more than 5 hours, so there was time to adapt this wonderful story faithfully. This is done very well and with good attention to detail. Bear in mind, though, that because it was originally a mini series (and therefore meant to be watched in chapters over the course of several nights), the editing is done in "chapters", and it does not play like a normal movie. It really doesn't matter, because we get an opportunity to take breaks along the way without interrupting the flow. And breaks you need, because of the 5+-hour length. All in all, this is a faithful adaptation, and an excellent video."
Excellent Adaptation of the Leon Uris novel
Gustavo J. Doble | 09/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a made for television movie (almost a mini-series, in fact, since the film clocks in at just under 5 and one-half hours) that I remember watching, spellbound, for three evenings. I am delighted it is once again on video.QB VII (the title refers to Queen's Bench Courtroom number 7 in London) is an adaptation from a novel by Leon Uris ("Exodus"). The story centers on two men: Sir Adam Kelno (Anthony Hopkins) and Abraham Cady (Ben Gazzara), each of whom provide compelling performances.Kelno (Hopkins) is a doctor who is a Polish nationalist and anti-Communist. Following World War 2, the Polish Communist government brings action in England to have Kelno deported back to Poland as a war criminal for atrocities he is alleged to have committed as a prisoner doctor in the Jadwiga concentration camp. He is acquited, and signs on with the British Colonial Service as a medical doctor in Kuwait. For his efforts in treating nomadic tribesmen there, he is Knighted by the Crown and establishes a medical practice serving poor Londoners in the Elephant and Castle district.Abraham Cady (Gazzara) is an American who volunteers with the British Royal Air Force (RAF), and is decorated after being shot down while on a mission. Although his father is an Orthodox Jew, Cady has no use for Judaism and is, in fact, a self-described Anti-Semitic Jew. He goes on to become an Oscar winning screenwriter in Hollywood, and is unfaithful to his British (and non-Jewish) wife, played capably by Juliet Mills (of "Nanny and the Professor" fame). Only after his father dies in Israel, and Cady visits Yad Vashem, the Israeli museum honoring victims of the Holocaust, does he have an awakening of his own Jewishness. He writes a massive novel, "The Holocaust," in which he mentions that Dr. Adam Kelno performed castrations on Jewish prisoners of the Jadwiga concentration camp in collaboration with the Nazis. The book, "The Holocaust" becomes an international best-seller and Kelno sues Cady for libel. Their Courtroom confrontation is at the heart of the film, and the film must be seen which is why I will not divulge the ending in this review.Hopkins and Gazzara are perfect playing two very flawed men. The talented and beautiful Lee Remick, who died much too soon, is excellent in her all-too-limited role. British actor Julian Glover is very good in his role as Polish intelligence agent Zaminski, who comes to Cady's aid. (The scenes that purport to be Warsaw, Poland were actually shot in Belgium).The one time I had to suspend disbelief was in connection with Cady's father, ostensibly an Orthodox Jew, being so accepting of his son's marrying a non-Jew. But that is somewhat nit-picky, and doesn't detract from this wonderful, dramatic, work. Very highly recommended!"