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April 11, 2003 - Image 106

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Arts & ertainment

L..-F=f- FR C •

ITALIAN GRILL

Big Screen/Small Screen

Fresh, Affordable, Italian dining.

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Drop by during Happy Hour
our $2.99 appetizers.



Survivor's Story

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for children 10 and under.

Birmingham native Christine Lahti stars as Jewish doctor who helped
save lives of death camp inmates in Showtime drama.

Larco's restaurants -
family owned for 50 years.

the role. In addition to directing an
Oscar-nominated 1994 short film and
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
a well-received first feature, My First
Mister, starring Leelee Sobieski, she's
n Showtime's Out of the Ashes, a
carved a niche portraying complicated,
Holocaust survivor steps off a
embattled women.
boat at New York harbor, impe-
Lahti received an Oscar nomination
riously hands her battered suit-
for
playing a scrappy factory worker in
case to her American niece and
Swing Shift and an Emmy as
1984's
embarks on a shoe-shopping spree.
power-hungry
Dr. Kate Austin on
The TV movie is the story of Dr.
Chicago
Hope.
CBS's
Gisella Perl (Christine Lahti), the
To
portray
Gisella
Perl, Lahti
Hungarian gynecologist who saved
studied
numerous
films
and
1,000 women by performing
books,
including
Perl's
autobiogra-
secret abortions in Auschwitz.
phy, I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz;
"She was also a bit of a diva,"
she also interviewed survivors and
Lahti said.
perused videotaped testimonials at
The actress (Chicago Hope, The
Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the
Heidi Chronicles) said she was
Shoah Visual History Foundation.
drawn to the film because of its
Like The Pianist star Adrien
unconventional depiction of a sur-
.
Brody,
she dieted to achieve an
vivor as less than heroic.
emaciated
look
for
the
film:
"I
"Gisella had a very mixed repu-
scared myself looking in the mir-
tation," the tall, imposing Lahti
ror," she recalled.
said in .her cavernous Brentwood,
The first day on the set in
Calif., living room on a recent
Vilnius,
Lithuania, Lahti turned
morning.
to
director
Joseph Sargent and
"In videotaped testimonials„
said,
"This
is much harder than I
some eyewitnesses said she was the
thought
it
would
be."
bravest person they had ever seen,
Thereafter,
she
said, "I had anxi-
risking her life every time she per-
ety
attacks
and
insomnia,
and I
formed abortions with her bare
warned
Joe
that
I
might
need
to
hands on the barracks floor.
stop
shooting
at
some
point
and
"Others said she was elitist,
call my husband."
demanding bread as payment for
Sargent said he was "waiting for
medical services. She even had a
Christine Lahti as Dr. Gisella Perl in
Christine
to break down, but that
`maid' in .rhe barracks, a patient
"Out of the'Ashes"
never happened. Instead, she
who made up her cot and sewed
translated what was going on
holes in her doctor's coat."
inside
her into an incredibly subtle,
(The
West
director Thomas Schlamme
Ashes also depicts how Perl volun-
powerful
performance.
whose
parents
fled
Berlin
just
Wing),
teered, albeit under duress, to assist
"That
subtlety
allowed us to exam-
Kristallnacht.
before
the notorious Dr. Mengele, for which
ine
the
morally
complex
areas that
On
an
early
outing,
the
couple
sat
she was initially barred from practicing
haven't
been
explored
so
much in
through the nine-hour Claude
medicine in the United States.
Holocaust
films."
I
was
Shoah.
Landzmann documentary
As such, it's the latest in a small but
While Perl may have been a diva,
horrified," Lahti said. Later, her
growing body of films, including Tim
Lahti
nevertheless admires her. "As
refugee
father-in-law
described
enlist-
Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone, that
much
guilt as she had and as much
ing
in
the
U.S.
Army
and
helping
to
presents Holocaust victims not as mar-
loss
as
she endured she was able to
liberate
concentration
camps.
tyrs but as complex human beings
contribute
so much," the actress said.
The actress went on to read books
forced to make excruciating, even
"But
she
did have a sense of privi-
and watch films on the Holocaust, but
abhorrent, choices in order to survive.
lege,
even
in
hell." .0
says
she
encountered
few
from
a
The trend has troubled observers
woman's
point
of
view.
Which
is
why
such as Aaron Breitbart, senior
she was riveted by a 1980s New York
researcher at the Simon Wiesenthal
Out. of the Ashes premieres on
Times article on Perl.
Center, who worries that "viewers
8 p.m. Sunday, April 13,
Showtime
"I put it in a drawer, and 15 years
don't have enough knowledge and
8 p.m. Thursday, April
and
repeats
later I got the call from Jerry Offsay at
sophistication about the Holocaust to
),
17; 10 p.m. Monday, April 21;
Showtime,"
she
said.
"I
couldn't
absorb the nuances.
and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, April 27.
believe the coincidence."
Lahti, however, believes more tradi-
Lahti,
51,
was
a
logical
choice
for
tional depictions in high-profile films

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such as Schindler's List have prepared
viewers for characters like Perl.
"It was ultimately her need to sur-
vive that touched me," the actress said.
"It was the things she did that weren't
so heroic but completely human."
Lahti, who grew up Lutheran in
Birmingham, Mich., says her
Holocaust education began when she
met her Jewish husband of 19 years,

.................

4/11

2003

106

jewish.com

l (giiiMfigarggROMVAMTANIMS: 4:M an gi. . 4 : 4 .

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