Murer–Anatomy of a Trial


Once known as the “Jerusalem of the North,” Vilnius and its unavenged ghosts haunt the proceedings of this transfixing courtroom drama. Numbering over 80,000 before the war (when they made up 45 percent of the city’s population), by 1943 Vilnius’s vibrant Jewish community had been brutally decimated to only 600 remaining survivors. Based on original records from the 1963 ten-day trial of Austrian former SS officer Franz Murer, whose sadism in the Lithuanian ghetto earned him the label the “Butcher from Vilnius,” director Christian Frosch restages the vivid testimonies, World Jewish Congress conspiracy theories and unruly behind-the-scenes machinations of the case with an aptly titled “anatomical” intensity.

Will justice be delivered against Murer—a wealthy and well-regarded statesman, farmer and family man? What would it mean for the Austrian courts, press and public to condemn him, without acknowledging the complicity of an entire society that welcomed a monster back into its fold? Murer: Anatomy of a Trial is harrowing in its details, not only in its portrayal of the routine miscarriage of justice, but also in showing how pervasively evil can seep into the everyday—like the whiff of Chanel No. 5 which induces nausea in a survivor, reminding her of the perfume worn by Murer’s girlfriend in the ghettos. —Tien-Tien L. Jong

Christian Frosch, born in Waidhofen an der Thaya in 1966. Training in photography at die Graphische, Vienna. Studies at the Film Academy Vienna and the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb). The producer, screenplay writer, and dramatic advisor was awarded the Diagonale Audience Prize in 2015 for the film Von jetzt an kein Zurück (AT/DE 2014). In 2005, also at the Diagonale, he received the Carl Mayer Screenplay Prize for the treatment "Vanitas".

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