"Journey into Darkness"
THE MEMORY THIEF is the story of a lonely young man who begins to identify with and then obsess over victims of the Holocaust. Lukas hardly has an existence outside of his job at a tollbooth. With voyeuristic tendencies, he lives his life through the activities of others.
Things change when a driver tosses Lukas a copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Lukas begins to read the book, and the next day, Mr. Zweig, an older Jewish gentleman paying his toll, sees the book and begins to yell at him in Yiddish. He even tries to give him ten dollars for the book, just to get it out of his hands. Then, Mr. Zweig shows Lukas his tattoo from Auschwitz.
The next day, the man returns and gives Lukas a videotape containing the testimony of his life in Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Lukas stops watching his video pornography and starts watching the gut-wrenching testimony of his newfound Jewish acquaintance. He is mesmerized by the tragic tale.
Mr. Zweig dies. Lukas attends his funeral. There, he meets Mira, a Jewish medical student with whom he begins to spend time. Lukas starts his obsessive journey, transforming himself into a Jew. He goes to a Jewish bookstore and buys all kinds of paraphernalia. He goes to the Holocaust Foundation, the group that produced the testimony tape, and gets a job as an apprentice interviewer of Holocaust survivors. There, he is given dozens of videotapes to watch so that he can learn the right techniques for interviewing.
However, Lukas begins to slip into absolute obsession mode, to the point where he has six televisions running at the same time. He creates a wall of old photographs and newspaper clippings. Soon, his apartment looks like the home of a mad man.
The obsession continues, and Lukas forces Mia’s father, a survivor, to make a testimony tape, which ultimately takes Lukas over the edge. Lukas shaves his head, tattoos his arm and begins to manifest his transformation into an Auschwitz survivor – ranting and raving on the streets of Los Angeles. His obsession has become possession. He truly believes that he experienced the horrors of the survivors. Lukas does become a “memory thief” of sorts, absorbing their memories like a sponge and driving himself to the brink of insanity.
THE MEMORY THIEF tastefully chronicles the horrors that the Holocaust survivors experienced. Yet, the movie is mostly a story about obsession. Lukas is seeking to reconcile a past that he could not remember, and he has to create an identity through the past lives of the Holocaust survivors.
There are many disturbing stories from the Holocaust, some limited foul language and images from a pornographic movie. This is first and foremost a psychological drama about going into the mind of a disturbed young man. Therefore, media-wise viewers will exercise extreme caution.
(BB, FRFR, L, VV, SS, NN, A, D, M) Strong moral worldview from a Jewish perspective includes young man shows godly compassion and a giving spirit as he anonymously slips money to neighbor who cannot pay rent, mixed with statements and declarations in favor of National Socialism (Nazism); eight obscenities, plus racial slurs from Neo-Nazi characters; main character is beaten, young man is roughed up, somewhat graphic descriptions of the events at Auschwitz concentration camp including the murder (gassing and shooting) and torture of inmates; brief pornographic video clip of sex in progress, including offensive sounds, plus references to a transsexual young man; brief rear male nudity in pornographic clip; drinking alcohol as character sinks deeper into depression/obsession; cigarette smoking; and, racism and anti-Semitism rebuked and man has dark obsession.
THE MEMORY THIEF is the dark story of a lonely young man named Lukas who begins to first identify with and then obsess over the victims of the Holocaust from WWII. Lukas hardly has an existence outside of his job as a tollbooth worker and is very isolated. With voyeuristic tendencies, he lives his life by observing the activities of others. He encounters Mr. Zweig, a Holocaust survivor who notices that Lukas is reading Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Zweig explains to Lukas his experiences in the concentration camp of Auschwitz and the nightmare of the Holocaust. Lukas begins to obsess over such survivors to the point where he begins to think that he himself is a Jewish survivor from Auschwitz.
THE MEMORY THIEF contains many disturbing stories from the Holocaust as survivors recount their experiences, some limited foul language and images from a pornographic movie. The movie reveals the heartbreaking, emotional testimonies of actual survivors of Auschwitz, but is actually a journey into a realm of psychological darkness that is far from edifying. Thus, Lukas’ transformation from loneliness into total obsession is captivating, though disturbing. Therefore, media-wise viewers will exercise extreme caution.