When birds spoke

Henryk Schonker in "The Touch of an Angel" 
by Marek Tomasz Pawłowski

I watched this amazing documentary around the time I saw another Holocaust-themed film, the Oscar winner "Son on Saul". The comparison automatically sprung to mind: the feature with its frames soaked in attempts to recreate and authenticate many a time took me outside of its goal: I was seeing staging on screen and couldn't get it out of my mind. On the other hand the documentary did not hide its kitchen, things would start as the recollection and then move to their recreation. At which point I was hooked without reservation.

It's either the techniques of both storytellers or the cleverness of the initial deflecting of "it's not real" reaction. Or the combination of both.  An example of that "start with the talk and move to its recreation" is also in the scene that, breaking through the screen and further through the limitations of "now and here"  totally floored me.

In the scene Henryk Schönker recalls a 1938 Auschwitz conversation with a young mentally challenged boy as they both stand by a river bank.  The boy points to the other side of the river,  toward Auschwitz, and says "I see a lot of your people burned there, but you will survive". 

Henryk is perplexed and asks where did he get that from. The boy points to the birds flying above and says "the birds told me so".

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