Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ben Kingsley depicts Nazi official Adolf Eichmann in ‘Operation Finale’
Stephen Schaefer Monday, August 27, 2018
Ben Kingsley stars as Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale, written by Matthew Orton and directed by Chris Weitz, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.
Ben Kingsley stars as Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale, written by Matthew Orton and directed by Chris Weitz, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Valeria Florini / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
Ben Kingsley stars as Adolf Eichmann in Operation Finale, written by Matthew Orton
NEW YORK — In the thriller “Operation Finale,” Ben Kingsley plays notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the “Final Solution” to exterminate 4 million German Jews.
It’s 1960 and South America has long sheltered fugitive Nazis from international justice. That changes when a Mossad intelligence team led by Peter Malkin (Oscar Isaac) kidnaps Eichmann.
But before he can be taken to Israel for trial, Eichmann must remain hidden in a safe house as right-wing neo-Nazi forces search for him.
For Kingsley, 74, there was one reason, and one reason only, to play this mass murderer.
“I start from the perspective of the victim,” he said in that distinctively sonorous voice during a one-on-one interview at the Essex House.
“It’s my deep, abiding affection, admiration and loyalty to the victims that gives me the fuel, the energy, to get through the portrait of Adolf Eichmann. I did it for them. Not for him.”
Kingsley’s history of Nazi-era subjects includes playing Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Itzhak Stern in “Schindler’s List” and Otto Frank, the sole survivor of “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
“I will never tire of repeating over and over again, insisting that the world try and come to terms with this tremendously indigestible lump of history.
“It still chokes us. It’s incomprehensible. It’ll never be understood. But it must never be forgotten. It must never be forgiven.”
Eichmann, reported dead at the end of World War II, lived under an assumed name with his wife and children. Yet his real identity was known; he was revered for his Nazi past.
Kingsley arrived the first day of filming with his role wholly memorized.
“I needed to reassure myself that at least one of the largest hurdles was to assimilate his language. Learning that dialogue, I said to one of my colleagues, was like knocking nails into my skull. Not pleasant.”
A chilling scene sees Eichmann reunited with fellow Nazis alongside sympathetic Catholic priests and neo-Nazi government and police officials for an old-fashioned Nazi rally. One that suggests for these loyalists the war had never ended.
Was that accurate!?
“Oh my goodness, yes,” Kingsley said. “There are tape recordings he made. We use some of the words he used.”
(“Operation Finale” opens Wednesday.)
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