Screening: Special preview of ‘The Debt’ at the Frontline Club

By Antje Bormann

The screening of ‘The Debt’ by director John Madden at the Frontline Club was announced as something of a rarity, moving away from the purely journalistic treatment to the fictionalisation of political issues.

The film, which will be on general release in UK cinemas from 30 September, stars Academy-Award winner Helen Mirren, Academy-Award nominee Tom Wilkinson, and Ciaran Hinds, as well as Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington It picks up in the lives of three Mossad operatives who worked together in the 60s on a mission in East Berlin to extract Dieter Vogel, known as the ‘Surgeon of Birkenau’, a medical doctor who conducted cruel experiments on concentration camp inmates in Nazi Germany.

In the same vein as some of the more thoughtful films and documentaries made after the fall of the Wall and German reunification, The Debt reveals deeper layers underneath the bare facts and leaves viewers to judge. Based on an Israeli film from 2007, The Debt explores not only Israel’s policy of actively pursuing outside their own jurisdiction those guilty of holocaust crimes, but also the personal relationships within the group of three young agents couped up with only each other for company on a mission abroad.

There is also an exploration of the relationship between the captors and their captive who cleverly manipulates them.

Most interesting was the conflict between honesty and covering up the actual results of a mission, supposedly for the ‘greater good of society’. Inevitably at some point personal interests will clash with more powerful people’s personal interests, and under the mantle of ‘the public good’, lies are told.