Awards

PRIZE OF THE VOLKSHOCHSCHULJURY Manheim Filmweek 1970
PRIZE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC JURY Manheim Filmweek 1970
Broadcasted twice on Dutch Television (VARA), on May 9, 1970 and on October 19, 1970

Synopsis

Jacob Presser, the great Dutch historian, was born at the end of the nineteenth century in the heart of Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter. In The Past That Lives, Presser’s intensely personal narrative is embedded in the tremendous upheavals of European history in the first half of the twentieth century: the growth of "that life-giving" socialist ideology and the optimism it inspired; the terror of Hitler’s rise to power ("the victory of that abyss"); and the devastation of Amsterdam’s 100,000 Jews.

With wit and sadness, Presser tells of his childhood in the ghetto, as the son of a poor diamond worker; his fascination with socialism, Germany, and the Renaissance; and his dreamy marriage even as the world was rapidly changing around him. Filmmaker Philo Bregstein interweaves this account with extensive Dutch and German archival still photography and film, to create a moving portrait to pre-war Amsterdam and its transformations.

The persecution of Jews in Holland intensified; Presser’s students and eventually his wife were taken from him, and he went underground. In the post-war return to "normalcy," Presser attempted to make sense of his experiences by interviewing countless survivors of the Dutch holocaust and writing his masterpiece, Ashes in the Wind: The Destruction of Dutch Jewry. The book created a storm of controversy because it exposed many members of the Dutch bourgeois who collaborated with the Nazis.

Critical Acclaim

"The Past That Lives was awarded with prizes “for its human approach” and for pointing at an inhuman danger: the resurrection of a new murderous racism in - far too many - parts of the world." -Josef Sryck, Haaretz (April 11, 1975)

"In The Past That Lives Professor Jacob Presser told the story of his life. A serious man, who told the stirring story with simplicity. Filmmaker Philo Bregstein deserves great merit for illustrating the story with the same simplicity." -Het Vrije Volk (Dutch Publication, May 11, 1970)

Credits

Written and Directed by Philo Bregstein
Editor Jan Dop
Camera Anton Haakman
Sound Tom Tholen
English Voiceover Ton van Duinhoven

External Links

Official website: www.presserfilm.com

Home Use DVD:
$29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information

Classroom/Library Use DVD: $195

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

Arrange a screening - Contact us


Also Directed by Philo Bergstein

In Search of Jewish Amsterdam

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The Past That Lives

Netherlands, 1970,
65 minutes, B&W
Directed by Philo Bregstein

Buy Now

Public Exhibition formats: 16mm, Beta, DVD


 
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