Something Resembling Happiness

By Sheli Teitelbaum. The Jerusalem Report. Jerusalem: Apr 3, 2006. pg. 54

Hungarian director Lajos Koltai's film version of Imre Kertesz's 'Fateless' does not shy away from depicting the beauty that existed in life in Auschwitz.

Should it come as a surprise that what some critics are calling the finest Holocaust film ever made was the work of a non-Jew? In the case of Hungarian cinematographer Lajos Koltai, who found himself given the assignment by Hungarian-Jewish Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz of directing "Fateless," the screen adaptation of his 1975 novel of the same name, the question may well be worth asking. Especially as Koltai feels no compunction about informing The Jerusalem Report that in filming the quasi-biographical details of Kertesz's wartime experiences, he looked for inspiration to Jesus' ascent to Calvary. Not as a metaphor for his own ordeal in bringing off the most expensive Hungarian film spectacle ever attempted, mind you, but for that of Kertesz's fictional depiction of his own youthful self, arrested and sent to Auschwitz at the height of the Holocaust in Hungary.

"Oh, come on," Koltai snapped, when I expressed surprise at his choice of Jesus as a governing metaphor for the story of the author who was long denigrated in his native Hungary for making his fiction too Jewish. "You know Jesus was a Jew, and that everybody is carrying the heavy cross on his shoulder. It's made from wood, or maybe it is your faith. But everyone has one."