Kings­ley: ‘I wanted to nail Eich­mann to gates of Auschwitz’

The Western Star - - ARTS & ENTERTAINM­ENT -

Ben Kings­ley said he didn’t por­tray Adolf Eich­mann out of love or ad­mi­ra­tion. Rather, he wanted to “nail him to the gates of Auschwitz.”

The Os­car-win­ning Kings­ley, who has tack­led his­tor­i­cal fig­ures be­fore, in­clud­ing Ma­hatma Gandhi, Otto Frank and Simon Wiesen­thal, said play­ing Eich­mann in “Op­er­a­tion Fi­nale” pro­duced an en­tirely dif­fer­ent feel­ing in him.

“With Gandhi, I loved him. With Simon, I loved him. With Otto, I loved him. With Itzhak (Stern), I loved him. But him - I’ll nail you to the gates of Auschwitz. I’ll put you up there so ev­ery­one can see what you did, what you stood for and who you are,” Kings­ley told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a re­cent in­ter­view.

The story takes place fif­teen years af­ter the end of World War II. A team of Mos­sad agents travel to Ar­gentina with the ex­tremely dan­ger­ous mis­sion of smug­gling Eich­mann out of the coun­try to bring him to jus­tice in Is­rael.

Eich­mann, wanted for war crimes, was liv­ing in the South Amer­i­can coun­try af­ter es­cap­ing Ger­many at the end of the war. He was the main ar­chi­tect of the Fi­nal So­lu­tion, the Nazi plan to ex­ter­mi­nate Jews that led to more than six mil­lion deaths.

“I put him into the cam­era for you to judge him, for you to see. I’ve let go of him and I ded­i­cated my per­for­mance to Elie Wiesel and the mil­lions who lost their lives un­der his com­mand,” Kings­ley said.

“Rather than say­ing to the man that I por­trayed, ‘I am do­ing this for you,’ because I cer­tainly wasn’t, I used to say to Elie Wiesel, ‘I’m do­ing this for you,’ because I know that Elie and other sur­vivors said quite rightly that if we for­get the six mil­lion, we are mur­der­ing them all over again.”

In the film, the rhetoric spo­ken by Eich­mann bares an eerie sim­i­lar­ity to the vi­cious de­bates cur­rently sur­round­ing the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue in the United States and across the globe. Kings­ley sees the film as a cau­tion­ary tale and hopes that au­di­ences “will have thoughts af­ter the see­ing the film that they did not have be­fore.”

Af­ter protests by neo-Nazis and white su­prem­a­cists last year in Char­lottesvill­e, Vir­ginia, Kings­ley thinks it’s im­por­tant to not for­get the lives lost in the Holo­caust, so it doesn’t hap­pen again.

“Mem­ory is vi­tally im­por­tant, truth and mem­ory. I’m quot­ing now Elie Wiesel, whom I met on sev­eral oc­ca­sions. I loved his com­pany. It was def­i­nitely being in the com­pany of what I would say would be com­pa­ra­ble to an Old Tes­ta­ment prophet. I felt that also when I was in the pres­ence of Simon Wiesen­thal for all those months when I por­trayed him. And Simon, quite clearly said that it could hap­pen again. And so did Elie in his heroic pes­simistic mo­ments.”

“Star Wars” star Os­car Isaac took a break from shoot­ing the lat­est in­stall­ment in the fran­chise to at­tend the re­cent New York pre­miere of “Op­er­a­tion Fi­nale.”

“I flew in from a gal­axy far, far away where we’re shoot­ing in Lon­don,” he said.

Isaac plays Nazi-hunt­ing Mos­sad agent Peter Malkin. He also drew par­al­lels between the rhetoric of Eich­mann and the vi­cious de­bates of to­day on im­mi­gra­tion.

“You start to hear a lot of sim­i­lar lan­guage, and it’s so, so pow­er­ful what a dem­a­gogue can do. How he can whip up just nor­mal peo­ple, not mon­sters, not psy­chopaths - just reg­u­lar peo­ple to hate,” Isaac said.

The film hits theatres Aug. 29 and also stars Me­lanie Lau­rent, Lior Raz and Joe Al­wyn.

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