HomeEntertainmentThree Minutes: A Lengthening – the heartbreaking archive documentary on BBC iPlayer...

Three Minutes: A Lengthening – the heartbreaking archive documentary on BBC iPlayer now

Last year, I wrote about a fascinating film that only had a short theatrical release, for my Long Take column in Sight and Sound – but now it will live for a year on iPlayer, and I think it is well worth your time. Three Minutes: A Lengthening is directed by Bianca Stigter and has a voiceover by Helena Bonham-Carter. You may recognise its subject from the book Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film by Glenn Kurtz.

The transfer from book to film is crucial here, as Kurtz’s subject was a three-minute excerpt of a home movie his father David shot on holiday in his old hometown in Poland just before the second world war. The film allows us to pore over these images, moving and still, cropped and magnified for clues. What happened to these people, who were all Jewish? And might any of them survive to tell their story?

The film is a very powerful one, with a very specifically harrowing tale to tell. It is also a tale of screen archaeology, of archival research, digital reconstruction and even more resonantly, of the uncanny pull that faces in the crowds in old films can exert over the viewer. Some faces demand to be seen, and known better.

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