The Holocaust Horror Continues
Having been the only member of his family to survive the holocaust Hungarian Jew Mel Mermelstein (Leonard Nimoy) has gone on to have a happy life, married with his own business and speaking at schools about the holocaust. It is whilst giving a talk that he becomes angered by a student who has been told the holocaust never existed, and Jews weren't gassed to death in prison camps. It leads to Mel having an article printed in The Jewish Post which comes to the attention of the IHR who write to Mel challenging him and saying they will pay $50,000 if he can prove that Jews were gassed to death during the war and if he doesn't respond or attempt to prove it they will shame him in the press. After collating a detailed account of his time in Auschwitz corroborated by other survivors the IHR chose to ignore it and refuse to pay him any money. With the help of public interest attorney William John Cox (Dabney Coleman), Mel decides to take the IHR to court for refusal of repaying the money.
"Never Forget" is based on the true story of Mel Mermelstein who in 1980 found himself being baited by the IHR to prove the events of the Holocaust and despite advice from people to ignore the letter and what it would mean in the bigger picture if they humiliated his accounts he goes ahead out of a moral belief not to back down from the trouble. As you can see from that synopsis above this all ended up in court where Mel sued them for non payment, that is an important point there which is worth taking note off as the court case was not about whether or not Jews were gassed at Auschwitz and it is easy to be mislead into thinking that this movie is about proving that to be the case.
Having got what to me is an important fact dealt with "Never Forget" is a very interesting movie which highlights that there are those who still believe that the holocaust did not happen and are willing to intimidate and bully those who say otherwise. We watch how Mel tries to get advice but keeps on being knocked back till he meets John Cox who agrees to represent him. We see this situation causes Mel stress as he doesn't hear anything from the IHR but receives threatening anonymous letters which his children see.
All of this leads to the court case which I am not going to go into but trust me "Never Forget" is well worth a watch. I will just say that whilst based on the true story it is of course a movie and so some facts and events have been changed and you need to keep that in mind whilst watching.
At the centre of "Never Forget" are two performances starting with Leonard Nimoy as Mel and Nimoy does a fantastic job of playing a man who feels a need to make a stand. It is this side rather than aspects of being Jewish which impresses as he makes Mel a real person with a moral conviction and a belief that people should not forget what happened. He also sells the parts of the movie where he tells children about what happened in Auschwitz so it is real but not over played. At the same time we have Dabney Coleman, the small time lawyer hitting above his weight by taking on this case but feeling a need to tackle the IHR for different reasons. And Coleman is just as good as playing the plucky lawyer making him confident yet at the same small time so we know he is taking on something much bigger than he is use to.
What this all boils down to is that "Never Forget" is a very good movie with a different aspect of the holocaust and its survivors. Of course there is an element of being one sided, something which is common place when you are talking about movies based on true stories but it is still a very interesting movie with wonderful performances from Leonard Nimoy and Dabney Coleman.