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By Phil Hall | May 21, 2011

Jason A. Schmidt helms this hypnotic video presentation of an astonishing and tragic art exhibition created by Marian Kolodziej, a Polish-Catholic survivor of Auschwitz. Kolodziej entered the concentration camp as a young adult and survived five years of incarceration. After a successful career as a set and costume designer for film and theater, he suffered a stroke in 1993. He used drawing as part of his rehabilitation therapy and he tapped into his long-buried memories of Auschwitz for his work.

The resulting output, titled “The Labyrinth” and exhibited at a church near the Auschwitz site, is a horrifying vision of hollow-eyed, skeletal beings driven to extremes of labor, starvation and sadistic torture by monstrous overlords. Kolodziej, who passed away in 2009, created a masterpiece that captured the pain and fear of the concentration camp prisoners. The depth and scope of harrowing emotions captured in his darkly detailed ink drawings is among the most moving artistic creations imaginable.

For Schmidt’s film, the camera pours slowly over every inch of Kolodziej’s extensive work, while the artist’s recollections (narrated by Roman S. Czarny) are somberly recounted against the ethereal sounds of Marek Zebrowski’s haunting score.

Although the Holocaust has been the subject of a surplus number of films, “The Labyrinth” provides an utterly original examination of the subject that must be seen. This 37-minute production is nothing short of brilliant.

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