Rebuilt from Broken Glass, created by Larry Hanover, is a documentary film about a Holocaust survivor that explores the idea that even in very dark times there is light at the end. Many families were separated during the Holocaust as they were displaced and were murdered because they were Jewish. This film directly opposes the goals of the Holocaust as Hanover presents a shining story that focuses on the reunion of two Jewish friends. Through the music of what seems to be flute and piano and the captivating Fred Behrend, this story juggles the tones of lightheartedness and darkness. The message of the film is all about the now, the future, and the love that is shared along the way.
The main focus of the story, Fred Behrend, is a charismatic and youthful character that is entertaining to watch. When discussing different objects found in Judaism, Fred seems genuinely interested in these items and excited to share their purposes with the world. He is clearly prideful in being Jewish which illustrates that the Holocaust failed. While Fred grew up in a time of extreme anti-semitism, today he speaks freely and very enthusiastically about his identity. Fred’s personality is truly what makes this film unique as later on he discusses his role in teaching German prisoners of war about democracy and how Fred found it ironic. The little jokes Fred makes brings a lighthearted tone to a dark subject and sets the mood for the conclusion of the film. The viewer can tell Fred loves his life and is very grateful for where he is now. The message of love is very apparent, especially when Fred reunites with his long, lost friend, Henry Baum. It is this consistent juggle of tone that creates such a unique film like this one.
The production adds an extra layer to this film. First, the music perfectly aids each scene and heightens the emotions no matter the subject. What seems to be a flute and piano adds this feeling of serenity and seems to replicate Fred’s emotions through song. One purpose of adding music is to communicate an idea or feeling that words cannot, the music in this film does just that. The flute and piano-like instruments make the viewer feel more connected to Fred when dealing with a subject that is hard to relate to. Additionally, the music really emphasizes the sorrow in the struggles people faced to come to America. Henry Baum explains the story of how his parents did not come to America because of a single affidavit signature; this story is being told all while a violin is being played. The music introduces and shows the reality of the Holocaust. It creates this contrast between Fred and Henry’s stories. Fred does share some darker stories yet he is mostly enthusiastic throughout the film. The music also contributes to the opposing tones, illustrating this peacefulness and the power of this joyful story which overshadows the somber past. On the side of production, the pacing and editing provide an easy to watch experience where the viewer learns beyond Fred’s story. Interviewing others from outside Fred’s circle introduces additional perspectives on the Holocaust as a whole. Rhonda Fink-Whitman, an interviewee, explains the importance of sharing stories about the Holocaust and naturally why this film is so important; then Derek Mallet, another interviewee, gives further insight on Fred’s democracy teaching job.
Thus, Fred Behrend, the very captivating and enthusiastic main focus, shares his story on the Holocaust and also being reunited with a childhood friend. This film balances themes of light and dark with the overall message being about love. The reunion between Fred and Henry seems so natural, as if they never left each other. This film experiments with music and the emotions it conveys. With all that, Rebuilt from Broken Glass is interesting, informative, and carries an illuminating tone throughout.
Larry Hanover’s documentary Rebuilt from Broken Glass screens at the Fall 2022 New Jersey Film Festival on Saturday, October 8. It will play along with the films Frontier and Saving Strays Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Director Larry Hanover will be present at the In-Person screening to do a Q+A after the showing.
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For General Info on the Film Festival go here: https://watch.eventive.org/newjerseyfilmfestivalfall2022