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Fourteen-year-old György's life is torn apart in World War II Hungary, as he is sent to a concentration camp, where he is forced to become a man, and learns to find happiness in the midst of hatred, and what it really means to be Jewish.
Isn't there more to Jewish culture than liver and onion sandwiches?
Genghis Cohn is a (very) mildly entertaining British movie about a German police commissioner in the late 1950's who is haunted by the ghost of a Jewish comedian that he killed 15 years earlier while serving under Hitler in the SS. The ghost comes back and wants his killer to live as a Jew to atone for the murders he committed.
Otto, the German policeman actually knows this ghost's name because, the last thing he did before he died was said, in Yiddish, `Kiss my ass'. The policeman didn't speak Yiddish, so he asked around until he found the meaning. The `kiss my ass' left such an impression that everybody involved with that killing learned and remembered the comedian's name, Genghis Cohn.
There are a bunch of men who are murdered in the jurisdiction of the police commissioner, and there are no helpful clues. The men are murdered with a set of knives that are missing from the local butcher. The butcher announces that his knives are missing while the commissioner is in the store to get a liver and onion sandwich, so the commissioner is a suspect. The first man is killed while making love to the butcher's wife, so the butcher is a suspect. But the butcher maintains that he would be very busy if he killed every man that slept with his wife. All the men are killed immediately after the climax of lovemaking.
I think I might be a bit angrier than the ghost of Genghis Cohn if I was killed like he was. He seems to be very good-natured about it, as if he was just in a mild car accident. I can only guess that it is because it is a British movie and they are known for being a very polite people. He uses some of his material from his stand-up routing, and I just didn't find it very funny.
I gave this movie a 4 because it was just kind of goofy. I thought it should have been a little more serious than it was. The movie turns out to be a murder mystery (where did this come from?), and it seemed that Genghis should have been more helpful than he was. The movie gave me a tiny look into Jewish culture, but was only skin-deep. Do all Jews love liver and onion sandwiches? Do they all say `shtoop' and `meshuganah' in their daily vocabulary? Isn't there more important stuff that we should know about the culture?
I saw this movie at a Jewish community center in Berkeley, CA, and I was the only person in the room whose hair was not fully gray or white. (I have no gray or white hair.) There were 18 of us, and after the movie they stayed for about 20 minutes to discuss the movie. There were 2 main concerns expressed there: 1. The movie was way too light-hearted and future generations might not understand the gravity of what happened and 2. As the Holocaust survivors are dying off, future generations will not know what really happened. I thought that this second concern was ridiculous and I told them I thought they didn't need to worry because there is tons of literature out there and there will always be people who like to watch movies, like myself. The murder of 6,000,000 people by a very bad man will not ever be forgotten. I write this last paragraph because they charged me with telling others about my experience that day.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
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