In between the fascinating interview, Lanzmann revisits some of the locations integral to the narrative and reads aloud from Murmelstein's book about his experiences. There is an arch integrity behind the banality of some of the locales, whether it be the desolated ruins of the Arsenal where many Jews were hung or the modern day train station of Nisko (in Poland), where the first deported Jews arrived in 1939. The grasping reality of time hovers over The Last Of The Unjust, whether that be just watching the suave Lanzmann smoking on a balcony while interviewing Murmelstein in Rome in 1975 or ravaged by the sacrifices of existence on the rainy platform of Bohusovice train station in the present. The running time (like all Lanzmann's films) is not oppressive but allows for Murmelstein and his interlocutor to talk through, around and inside the context and reality of pragmatism, egoism, heroism and evil. Like all great art the inherent vice that springs to mind is of a questioning honesty that will have to be decided by others who will never agree.
Murmelstein speaks in riddles that confer on him a lapsed judgement but not condemnation, for he asks of all of us: what would you do? Some of the crimes he's accused of - like withholding food from his fellow Jews - he is guilty of, but only until they agreed to be inoculated against typhus, which was spreading through the camp. He continues to explain his decisions behind the mantra that his job was to save lives at whatever cost. Likened to Falstaff by some, Murmelstein himself prefers Sancho Panza; the pragmatic lover of logic and common sense while others tilt at windmills. Orpheus and Scheherazade are also mentioned, but that is to miss the point, which is of course is the detailing of complex narratives with the prism of our darkest hours. An endeavour that Lanzmann has given his life to and for that we should honour him by visiting this transfixed vision of humanity in it's great and low majesty.