Directed by: #AshtonGleckman
Written by: Ashton Gleckman
Opening with a succinct overview, featuring a beautifully haunting theme by Benjamin Wallfisch, it’s instantly clear that the following two and a half hours will be carefully and skilfully put together.
Stepping gently through time, we go on a journey to the most disturbing place in history, and come out the other end with a better understanding of what these victims went through.
Gleckman’s direction in We Shall Not Die Now is terrific. The #documentary is broken up into parts, and these parts can act as a well-needed breather for the audience, if required. It’s a heavy watch, as you’d expect — but a vital one. The way in which the survivors’ stories are weaved together, with overlapping footage (archival and present day), is wonderful. It’s as if you’re having a conversation with them directly, not to mention how painfully rich and informative those stories are.
A majority of the making of this film, was tackled entirely by Gleckman himself as a one-man crew. Visiting many of the concentration camps, speaking with survivors and liberators, writing and recording the score, and then collecting all of this and making the pieces work consecutively with little drag, is a feat I’ll always be in awe of. He did this at 18 years old.
What this film manages to accomplish in its lengthy (but warranted) runtime is incredible. You thought you knew all you could about the Holocaust, but you didn’t. You could never. We Shall Not Die Now is completely fresh, and even with its use of older footage from Shoah, it offers up something new with clear control. Personally, I think this should be shown in schools. If films like Schindler’s List and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas are being presented to students, why not We Shall Not Die Now? Equally as important and heavy in weight.
The score — of course composed by Gleckman, as well as Michael Frankenberger — is a touching tribute to those who lost their lives and the people who lived to tell. Featuring a main theme by Benjamin Wallfisch (who has a personal connection to the Holocaust, as his grandmother is a survivor who was forced to play in the Auschwitz Women’s Orchestra), the score uses soft piano chords and a solo cello that cries out, sending chills down the spine. Each chapter in this project feels ultimately complete with its musical supplement.
We Shall Not Die Now, like Gleckman, has a bright future ahead. It’s already winning awards and garnering attention, and will certainly continue to do so in the coming months. Remembering the team of producers, musicians, and everyone else involved in the making of this film, of course — for without, this would not have been possible. And lastly, we must never forget the victims of these horrific events.
Available on most digital platforms December 5.